On April 10, 2017, the Euro-Atlantic Centre organized discussion titled “Summarizing the EU Presidencies of 2016” which took place at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations in University of Matej Bell in Banská Bystrica. Our invited guests were Mr Martijn Lambarts, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Netherlands in Slovakia and Mr Martin Kačo, Director of Department of Common and Security Policy of the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
At the outset, introduction to the post-Lisbon CFSP was offered, as well as what is the actual role of EU Presidency in co-shaping the EU foreign policy. It was stressed that the EU project represents a unique feature, offering small and big countries equally participation at decision-making, which in the foreign policy field are taken by consensus.
The Trio Presidency dynamic (Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta) has proved the validity of this concept established in 2012 which is based on the EU geopolitical diversity to seek a proper balance of European and national interests during the EU Presidency period. Process of creation of the Trio program has been explained, which put emphasises on the 5 following pillars:
– Jobs, growth, competitiveness
– The European Union protecting all the citizens
– Energy union and climate policy
– Freedom, security, justice
– The European Union as a strong global player
Netherland that already has been through the EU Presidency prior to adoption of the Lisbon Treaty summered up its recent experience and compared it with the past one dated back to 2004. It was determined that the most pressing factor for the EU Presidencies in 2016 was represented by unprecedented combination of internal and external challenges affecting the EU’s internal security, as inter alia by refugees and irregular migrants’ flow that peaked at summer of 2015. Thus, handling of the EU’s migration crisis has been top issue for each member of the Trio Presidency. Priorities of national EU Presidency of 2016 programs of Netherlands and Slovakia were presented as in synergy with the Trio Program as well as the key achievements in this regard.
Discussion held after the presentation focused on the future of the EU project, its multi-speed nature that is now expanding to areas of security and defence without delegation of any more national powers to the European institutions. It was stressed that the EU has no real and tangible alternative.