Slovakia has taken over the baton of the Presidency of the Council of the EU
Bratislava (1 July) – Today, Slovakia took over the baton of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, one of the most important EU institutions. On Thursday 30 June, the Commissioners led by Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Bratislava. On the same day, the Slovak government approved the six-month Programme of the Slovak Presidency.
Today, there was a working meeting of Ministers and Commissioners as well as bilateral negotiations between the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. The negotiations between the highest representatives of the Slovak Republic and the European Commission have been marked by three main themes – migration, the Bratislava summit, which will be held on 16 September, and Brexit.
After the meeting, Jean-Claude Juncker stated that the Slovak Presidency is very well prepared. ‘In this spirit, we had a very open, factual and content-rich meeting with the EC President,’ said Prime Minister Fico. They also discussed the Programme of the Slovak Presidency and its main parts which he considered were in line with the European Commission programme.
The schedule of negotiations continued with a plenary session between the National Council of the Slovak Republic delegation and the European Commission delegation. The EC President also met the Speaker of the Slovak National Council, Andrej Danko. The beginning of the Slovak Presidency will culminate with an opening gala concert which will be also attended by the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. Live broadcasting from the concert is provided by Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS).
The Programme of the Slovak Presidency, approved by the Slovak government just one day before the beginning of the Presidency, has four underlying priorities: an economically strong Europe, a modern single market, sustainable migration and asylum policies and a globally engaged Europe. ‘The European Union must cope with the results of the UK's referendum and address the fact that the European idea is losing its popularity among EU citizens. We are aware of the challenges,’ stated the Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miroslav Lajčák.
On the eve of the beginning of the Slovak Presidency, the President of the Slovak Republic, Andrej Kiska, welcomed the College of Commissioners in the Presidential Palace. ‘For Slovakia, this is a historical moment,’ Andrej Kiska said. ‘Our grandparents could never have imagined something like this. Neither could our parents, who lived behind the Iron Curtain for most of their lives. We have travelled a long journey to get here and we see the Presidency as a result of many years of hard work’ added the Slovak President who described Slovakia as ‘a beautiful country with great people and a lot of good ideas’.