The framework is based on the priorities of the EU’s strategic programme adopted at a summit in June 2014: jobs, growth and competitiveness, energy union, freedom, security and justice; and the EU’s role as a strong global player.
“This document raises us to the next level and makes it clear that we are approaching the final phase; because we're finally talking about the presidency’s content,” said Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We’ll use the remaining three months to address the most recent issues that should be on the presidency agenda.” He added that it is already evident that the British referendum on staying in the EU, to be held on June 23, will be a factor during the presidency, as its results will have to be reflected in legal documents in the second half of 2016 regardless of the outcome.
Another big issue will be migration, Lajčák noted. “We’ll try to make sure that it’s finally about the implementation of credible European policies and no longer merely about crisis management" he said, adding that he expects the two EU summits in March – a special session devoted to migrants expected in the first week, and a regular session on March 17-18 – to move things forward.
Economy and more
In relation to economic issues, Slovakia will focus on measures that will enhance the potential of the common market to offer consumers better services at lower prices and to encourage businesses to develop and grow. Emphasis will also be placed on the development and removal of barriers to the digital economy, further digitisation of public services and reform of the telecommunications network. There will also be an emphasis on improving the climate for start-ups and small- and middle-sized enterprises.
Another subject of focus will be the energy union, with an emphasis on enhancing energy security.
As for EU enlargement, Slovakia will pay particular attention to current candidates and potential candidates for membership, and to bringing the Western Balkan countries closer to the European Union. In addressing the migration issue, Slovakia will promote a comprehensive approach within the EU’s common foreign and security policy. This will include measures aimed at eliminating the causes of illegal migration, providing aid to the countries of origin of the migrants and to their transit countries – also including the Western Balkans.
Slovakia also supports closer cooperation with NATO in protecting the Schengen Area border.
On July 1, Slovakia is set to take over the 116th rotating presidency. It will hold the post for the first time since it joined the EU 12 years ago.