Slovakia Assumes Presidency of Council of European Union

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The Bratislava Castle illuminated at the start of Slovakia's Council of the EU Presidency in July 2016

Bratislava, July 1 (TASR) – Slovakia officially took over a six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union from the Netherlands on Friday.

On this occasion, members of the European Commission with its President Jean-Claude Juncker at helm arrived in Slovakia on Thursday evening to hold talks with members of the Slovak Cabinet on Friday. The beginning of each presidency is traditionally marked by such a meeting.

Slovakia assumed its first-ever presidency in a time when the EU faces unprecedented challenges like the Britain’s vote on exit from the EU, the migration crisis that is putting pressure on unity of the Schengen area and security issues following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.

The programme of Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, approved by the Cabinet at its session on Thursday, includes four priorities: an economically strong Europe, the modern single market, migration and a globally engaged Europe.

“We’re ready for the presidency, in terms of organisation as well as technical equipment. I believe that we’ll convince everybody [of this],” said Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee).

The EU Council is one of the chief EU institutions. Its role is forming of the European legislation along with the European Parliament, as well as coordination among EU members in individual fields, such as the joint foreign and security policies. Every six months one EU-member state presided over the Council. A country holding the presidency manages Council meetings at all levels. In addition, its role is to seek compromises in important issues and represent member states vis-a-vis other EU institutions like the European Commission and the European Parliament.