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On January 1st, Croatia took over the Presidency of the EU Council for the first time since becoming an EU member in 2013. For a period of six months, Croatia will lead the work of the Council, presiding its meetings at all levels. Following Romania and Finland, Croatia completes the trio of presidencies, carrying work that has largely been revolved around competitiveness, economic growth, as well as social and territorial cohesion.

A Europe that develops, connects and protects

The overarching motto ‘’A Europe that develops; A Europe that connects; A Europe that protects; An influential Europe’’, summarises the main policy directions of the Croatian government, as they are detailed in its Work Programme and Priorities.

Croatia is expected to work extensively on aspects that relate to economic, security, regional and education policy, while also ensuring a stronger international role for the EU.

Access to healthcare, lifelong healthcare and eHealth

In terms of EFA-related policies, EFA welcomes that the new presidency commits to strengthen the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, ensuring, among others, that all citizens have access to healthcare and enjoy wellbeing at the workplace.

Importantly, Croatia will invest in the promotion of lifelong healthcare, in line with the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, in light of ageing population and increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases, the Presidency aims to promote effective health solutions, including eHealth.

To this end, a conference on ‘’Better Future of Healthy Ageing 2020’’ will be held on 6-7 April, while on 15-17 April it will host the 10th eHealth week. Besides, there is willingness to look for an agreement on the still-under-discussion HTA regulation.

Finally, Croatia will draw from own experience to enhance cooperation among Member States in the area of organ donation and transplantation. The topic will also be discussed in the context of a high-level conference on the 16th of March.

Fostering dialogue on key environmental topics

Environmental policy will also draw the attention of the Presidency. The Croatian government plans to foster dialogue on key environmental topics contained in the recently unveiled EU Green Deal, while also facilitating the implementation of the Paris Agreement for a transition to a low-carbon economy. Namely, the Presidency will promote activities towards the new ambitious climate change goals, as defined in the Green Deal.

Meanwhile, discussions on the zero pollution goal for air and water will advance. This is of particular importance, given the forthcoming Council conclusions on the air quality fitness check, which will reportedly be drafted by the Croatian Presidency ahead of the March Council meeting.

Finally, emphasis will also be placed on the issue of biodiversity loss, especially in light of the recent Council conclusions calling for a new framework for 2030.