Slovakia is taking over the presidency of the European Union in very challenging times and it is important that the EU restores citizens' trust and focuses on solutions that will result in long-term prospects of the European project, Slovak Ambassador to Croatia Juraj Priputen said in Zagreb on Wednesday while presenting the priorities of his country's EU presidency to Croatian officials and diplomats accredited in Croatia.
We want to focus on citizens and their needs. At the same time, we want to focus on tangible results because now is the time to convince citizens that the EU is able to positively affect their everyday life. Our mission is to achieve solutions that are really acceptable to all member-states and useful to the EU as a whole, Priputen said.
He recalled that in the past few years the EU had faced many serious crises that had undoubtedly affected it as a union and influenced the sentiment of its citizens.
We regret that Britons have decided to abandon the European project. That shows that citizens' trust in the EU was seriously compromised and we must tackle that problem very carefully. We believe that the EU is the best solution for Europe and its citizens. It is important that the EU restores citizens' confidence and focuses on solutions that will bring long-term prospects for the European project, he stressed.
Presenting the priorities of his country's presidency, Priputen cited the achievement of tangible results that will directly benefit citizens' everyday life, overcoming fragmentation through closer ties between member-countries in the single market, and focusing on citizens' needs.
To achieve those three goals, the Slovak EU Presidency has decided to focus on four key priorities: an economically strong Europe, making use of opportunities offered by the single European market, balanced migration and asylum policies, and the role of the EU on the global scene.
During its EU presidency, Slovakia wants to focus on a positive programme rather than on issues which cause division among member-countries.
These four priorities reflect our complex ambition to increase the EU's resilience to external and internal challenges and to restore citizens' trust in the European project, said Ambassador Priputen.
Slovakia took over the six-month rotating EU presidency on July 1. During that period, talks on Great Britain's disassociation from the EU and on the future of the EU are expected to begin.
Presenting the priorities of Slovakia's EU presidency in the European Parliament on Wednesday, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said that the reasons and consequences of Brexit would be a dominant topic of his country's presidency and that Slovakia would work on linking member-countries more closely within the single market to avoid the EU's fragmentation.
He said, among other things, that Brussels should be able to communicate better with EU citizens, who, he said, resented its having detached itself from the reality of ordinary citizens' everyday life.
The outcome of the British referendum reflects the EU's failure to point to the usefulness of EU membership, said Fico, noting that EU citizens should be offered a long-term vision of the EU.
He stressed that the EU was a unique project, the biggest integration project ever that had been securing peace, freedom and prosperity for 71 years, but he also noted that the project needed new impetus to restore citizens' confidence and remove the impression of alienation.