Von der Leyen: Croatia and EU share priorities; next months crucial for Balkans

Von der Leyen: Croatia and EU share priorities; next months crucial for Balkans

Von der Leyen: Croatia and EU share priorities; next months crucial for Balkans Izvor: Borna Filic/PIXSELL

The priorities of the Croatian EU presidency are also the priorities of the European Union, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the start of a meeting attended by members of the Croatian government and the European Commission in Zagreb on Friday, adding that the next few months would be crucial for the Western Balkans countries which aspired to join the bloc.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the meeting at the National and University Library.

Von der Leyen, who had been a longtime minister in the German government from 2005 to 2019 before replacing Jean-Claude Juncker as head of European Commission on December 1, said that the success of the six-month Croatian presidency would also define the start her Commission's five-year term.

"The first Croatian presidency is a key moment, and it is also the start of our term. Your success will define our success... I have listened closely to your priorities and I can say that your priorities are ours as well," Von der Leyen said.

In his opening remarks, PM Plenkovic listed the four policy priority areas that Croatia's presidency would focus, which involve fostering balanced and sustainable economic growth; developing transport, data, and energy infrastructure; migration policy and efforts to combat cybercrime and misinformation campaigns, and encouraging the EU as a bloc to take a leading role on the international stage.

Von der Leyen said Croatia was a success story and added that "the next months were especially important for our relations with the Balkans... You presented the issue and we know we can count on Croatia and that it is a vocal supporter" (of the future EU membership of the Western Balkans.)

She also said that North Macedonia and Albania met the criteria and "now we must fulfil our promises."

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