The Presidency of the Council of the European Union switched from Romania to Finland on July 1st, 2019. On that occasion, the Institute for Politics and Society organized the business breakfast, which was held on the 12th September 2019. The main speakers and contributors to the debate were H.E. Carmen-Liliana Burlacu, Ambassador of Romania, H.E. Jukka Pesola, Ambassador of Finland and Jitka Znamenáčková, Director of the Department of EU Policies and Structural Funds, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, who were discussing the topic of Sustainable Europe and the Future with an emphasis on the Challenges of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. The moderator of the debate was Jan Macháček, Chairman of the board, Institute for Politics and Society.
The debate was started by H.E. Carmen-Liliana Burlacu, as the first speaker, with her reflections on Romanian’s presidency which ended in June. She stated that Romanian’s presidency was the challenging one. Both for Romanians and also for their relationship with other member states and European institutions. She mentioned that due to the very complex and difficult political environment, the main objective in the end of the Romanian’s presidency was to keep the unity of 27 member states of the EU. In general, she considered Romanian’s presidency as successful, despite the Romanian political crises and at the end of her speech she added that the European project remained and we all should have been working for its unity and efficiency and assuming its relevant role as a global actor.
H.E. Jukka Pesola continued with his speech by presenting the fundamental topics which Finland is focusing on during its presidency of the Council of the EU. In the beginning he remarked that Finland had inherited couple of questions from previous presidency. According to the Ambassador of Finland, the main challenges for the EU are rule of law, shared values, Brexit, migration and effort to resolve this situation, as well as building a strong developing economic base, making the EU more competitive, or taking care of social aspects. What is more, he also underlined that Finland had its own goals which it would like to achieve. He noted that one of the most important challenges were the debates on climate changes including the EU becoming a leader in climate actions and facing the security threats such as hybrid threats or cyber threats. The last thing he was talking about was theme related to the relations of the EU with third parties including United States and Transatlantic partnership, trade ties with African countries, relations with rising China, Russia or Western Balkans states.
Jitka Znamenáčková thinks that trio presidency (Finland, Romania and Croatia) working together is really important. Regarding to Finland’s presidency, Ms. Znamenáčková stated that there is really challenging and turbulent time due Brexit, constitution of new European commission, enthusiastic climate debate or debate on the mutual financial framework. She also made reference to the turbulent political environment, where the EU was in the middle of the crises of multilateralism. Another noticeable challenges the Europe has been facing to, according to Ms. Znamenáčková, are trade wars, especially between the US and China, discussion about energy security or cyber security, including the topic of 5G networks. Ms. Znamenáčková put the emphasis also on the October’s council which would be focused on mutual financial framework, new institutional order and debate on the enlargement of the EU.