Croatian civil society organization gathered within the Forum 2020 platform, which will actively follow the Croatian presidency of the Council of the EU and advocate for civil society priorities, welcome the governments’ decision to announce the presidency priorities. At the same time, we regret the fact that the government hadn’t consulted the civil society nor invited its representatives to the presentation of priorities. Furthermore, we can’t help but notice that the priorities were not consulted with the Croatian Parliament, which is a well established European and democratic practice.

Despite the Minister of Justice’s announcement that there will be a stronger emphasis on the rule of law, this priority has been redefined and has not been sufficiently prominent. We would like to remind that civil society organizations have already published their priorities for the presidency, which include the rule of law and the state of human rights within the EU. We regret that the government neglected the opportunity to put a stronger emphasis on this pressing issue common to all EU members.

A detailed list of civil society priorities is available here: https://crosol.hr/eupresidency/en/civil-society-priorities/

Regarding the four published general priorities, at this point, we are free to comment that the priority “A Europe which grows” should not be set without the parallel responsibility about the type of this growth and without taking into account on whose expense is European growth achieved.

Furthermore, we find the decision to use the “Europe that protects” slogan in the context of discussion about migrations and refugees to be rather unfortunate, and believe this framing could have problematic connotations, as well as strengthen anti-democratic forces within the EU.

We support the government’s decision to focus on the enlargement policies of the EU towards Western Balkans during the presidency. We expect that Croatia will show devotion to achieve the political consensus on the Council level about opening the negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania, which is of utmost importance to democratization, rule of law and development not only of these countries but the entire region. This represents a clear and common interest of civil society and the government of Croatia, and hopefully the entire European Union.

We eagerly await a more detailed presidency program from which it would be easier to discern which concrete European policies is the Croatian government aiming to influence, and we express our hope that Croatia will preside over the Council in a European and democratic manner – including in the process civil society organizations, Croatian Parliament and other democratic stakeholders.

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