The 27 EU Commissioners are arriving in Zagreb on Thursday to hold meetings, chaired by the European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen, on Thursday and Friday, formally marking the beginning of Croatia’s six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.
European Council President Charles Michel, who arrived in Zagreb on Wednesday, will also attend the two-day meeting.
On Thursday evening, Von der Leyen and other members of the EC will attend a special concert in the Croatian National Theatre (HNK), after which they will be received by Croatia’s outgoing President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
On Friday morning, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic is scheduled to meet with the Von der Leyen before the start of the meeting of the Croatian government and the College of Commissioners in the Croatian National and University Library (NSK).
The events in Zagreb are covered by some 60 Brussels correspondents who arrived on Wednesday for the College meeting at the start of Croatia's EU presidency.
They were briefed on Wednesday afternoon by Plenkovic about the priorities of the Croatian presidency, which are divided into four pillars – economic issues and negotiating the new, 2021-27 Multiannual Financial Framework (Europe that develops), infrastructure, education, culture, and sports (Europe that connects), comprehensive approach to migration and fighting fake news, cyber threats, and terrorism (Europe that protects), and finally, the enlargement process (An influential Europe).
During Croatia's six-month presidency, the European Union is also set to begin what are bound to be complex talks with the United Kingdom after the country leaves the bloc at the end of January, over three years after the 2016 Brexit referendum. The talks are going to be led by the EC, and Plenkovic on Wednesday called for "clarity on both sides".
"A nuclear power and permanent member of the Security Council is leaving, and this is the moment for the EU to see what it must do to gain bigger support among its citizens," Plenkovic said, adding that was the right time for the Conference on the Future of Europe, with which the new Democracy and Demography Commissioner, Croatia's Dubravka Suica, would be tasked.