The most valuable successes of the Slovak Council of the EU Presidency were agreements related to EU trade policies, Slovakia’s Permanent Representative to the EU Peter Javorčík said when assessing the achievements of Slovakia’s EU presidency. Slovakia has been chairing the EU council during the second half of 2016.
One of the key political accomplishments of this autumn was the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada known under the abbreviation CETA.
„Sometimes it’s difficult to draw up rankings, but the trade area turned out to be an extremely interesting and also significantly political sphere because of CETA,” said Javorčík, who led the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) of individual EU-member states in Brussels throughout late 2016. “It was an interesting story and, luckily, one with a happy ending.”
Another reason why Javorčík sees trade policy accomplishments in such a positive light is the modernisation of trade tools, as member states have been unable to find any common ground on this issue for years. A breakthrough in talks was achieved during the Slovak presidency. The trade tools are designed to allow a better response to unfair commercial practices and thus protect EU producers from damage caused by unfair competition.
As for the migration crisis, Slovakia during its presidency unveiled the concept of effective solidarity, although its future remains to be seen.
“Frankly said, it would be very optimistic to believe that we’ll settle that issue in any way, shape or form, but at least we managed to kickstart a debate on an extremely delicate and polarising issue,” said Javorčík as cited by the TASR newswire.
Javorčík pointed out that effective solidarity demonstrates that central European states can also contribute to the debate with a constructive proposal, and he voiced his pleasure at the fact that all member states embraced a call from the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) to better guard the EU’s external borders.
“This is a key point that we can all concur on,” said the Slovak diplomat.
Javorčík believes that the Slovak presidency has paved the way for Malta, slated to take over the presidency as of January, to arrive at some specific solution.
“Some resettlement will probably be part of the solution, but what’s crucial now is whether this will be done automatically or on some voluntary basis,” he said.