Prime Minister Plenkovic Refocuses Croatia’s Strategy to be Proactive EU & NATO Member
21 November 2016, VG Intelligence Weekly Issue 31
When Andrej Plenkovic became Prime Minister (PM) in mid-October, following a quick ascension to the top of his party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), it was no secret that the former MEP would lead a pro-European domestic and foreign policy, thus continuing the efforts of his predecessors to maintain a stable relationship with the EU and NATO. However, speaking in the Croatian Parliament (i.e. Sabor), following a vote of confidence, PM Plenkovic announced a more engaged Croatia in its role as EU and NATO members. What became apparent from his speech, as well as his first foreign policy efforts, is that the PM wants to shift Croatia from being a passive new member state to being a proactive contributor in forming EU policy.
Some of Plenkovic’s goals are already becoming apparent. Indeed, he said that, based on clearly defined priorities, he aims to raise the quality and efficiency of those representing Croatia’s official member state position at the Council of the EU level and other EU institutions. To address this issue, Plenkovic’s Government re-introduced the concept of State Secretaries within ministries to manage specific policy areas. Namely, in the structure of the previous government, assistant ministers were allowed only to participate at Council meetings without voting rights, while ministers and deputy ministers where the only Croatian representatives allowed to vote. In practice, this hierarchy proved challenging, since ministers and deputy ministers could not physically participate in all meetings. Under the new system, at the EU level, State Secretaries will also be allowed to vote absent of the presence of ministers.
Apart from being more active in Bruxelles, PM Plenkovic wants Croatia to have an ardent role when it comes to advising countries in the EU neighbourhood aspiring to become member states. In his October speech to the Sabor, Plenkovic said that, in the context of the EU’s Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy from June 2016, Croatia would proactively participate in creating EU policy and advocate the continuation of EU expansion…