Project duration: 1/1/2019 – 31/12/2019

Client: Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung

Team leader: Sandro Knezović, PhD

IRMO and the Office of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Zagreb successfully implemented the project “Croatian 2020 Presidency of the Council of the European Union – A Challenging Opportunity for International Affirmation”, which was motivated by the first historic Croatian presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2020. The project consisted of research work, the creation of a written study and the organization of a round table.
In its introduction,, the prepared study offers a contextual analysis of this Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, while the first chapter focuses on the analysis of the development of the institutional framework of the mentioned EU body, from its very beginning until today, pointing to its fundamental characteristics and relationships with other actors in the development of EU policies.
The second chapter deals with previous examples of small countries that presided over the Council of the EU (Malta, Latvia, Slovenia), whose experience is relevant for the upcoming Croatian presidency of the same body, analyzing good solutions, but also potential shortcomings in the relevant moment and geopolitical specificity.
The third chapter analyzes the basic policy determinants of the Croatian presidency, taking into account the broader time context (EU Troika) in which coordination takes place between the three presidencies within a period of 18 months, and the basic EU strategic documents and policies with which each presidency of the EU Council must be harmonized. This chapter, together with the conclusion, offers applicable policy recommendations, which may be useful for conducting a successful Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU, which would contribute to the international affirmation of the Republic of Croatia within the EU and beyond.
For a long time, the key focus of Croatian foreign policy was the region of Southeast Europe and regional cooperation as the main prerequisite in the phase of accession to the European Union and NATO. Croatia still plays an important role in stabilizing the region and helping candidate countries in the negotiation process. However, Croatia faces the challenge of active membership in NATO and especially in the EU after a long process of negotiations, for which more active engagement in the decision-making processes within the EU, especially within the framework of the EU Council presidency, is key.
The goal of the project was to make a comprehensive study of the institution of the EU Council Presidency. This was primarily done through the analysis of the development of the institutional framework, and then through the research of practical examples relevant to the Republic of Croatia and the possibilities and challenges of the upcoming Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU.
The purpose of the project was to carry out a detailed analysis of the fundamental determinants of the Croatian presidency and its geopolitical and temporal context, the conclusions and recommendations of which can be a useful aid to decision-makers in Croatia as well as in the EU.
The project itself represents an excellent example of continued successful cooperation between HSSt and IRMO and promotes IRMO as an academic institution capable of analyzing the most complex contemporary challenges. The visibility of IRMO, as a relevant academic institution in the mentioned area, was additionally ensured by organizing a round table in the final phase of the project, at which the study was presented and the conclusions and recommendations of this research were discussed.

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