Zovko reacts on the upcoming plenary session, from the Portuguese Presidency to a resolution on the earthquakes in Croatia

Brussels, 15 January 2021

The members of the European Parliament will meet next week for the first plenary session of the year. On the agenda are discussions and votes on reports such as on the EU’s common foreign and security policies as well as on a resolution on the consequences of the earthquake in Croatia. In addition, members will hold a debate on the start of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

With the annual reports on the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the common security and defence policy (CSDP) members assess the impact of global developments on the EU. This year, the two reports also take stock of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on the geopolitical dynamics. “The peace and security situation in the EU’s neighbourhood has been challenged throughout last year. The European Union needs to improve its strategic autonomy and apply an active foreign policy.” said Željana Zovko, Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In her amendments, Zovko underlined the need for improved transatlantic cooperation and referred to the EU’s unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries, as the Member States reaffirmed in the Zagreb Declaration of 6 May 2020.

After a statement of the Commission and a plenary debate, MEPs will vote next week on a resolution on mitigating the consequences of the earthquake in Croatia. The draft motion for the resolution is created by joint effort of Croatian members across political groups. Zovko, who also contributed to this resolution, welcomes the preparedness of the European Parliament to discuss the impact of this tragic event. “The upcoming debate is a strong sign of support to the Croatian people. Croatia could already count on aid from several European Member States. This token of solidarity clearly shows the benefits of being part of the European Union. In case of natural disasters, rapid assistance between participating countries is coordinated via the EU civil protection mechanism. The same European instrument also played a major role for the distribution of medical equipment to fight the Covid-19 virus.” Zovko stated. For the last years, Zovko has been active in promoting the EU civil protection mechanism on which she worked in the previous mandate as a rapporteur for the Committee on Development. In this light, she tabled last year a resolution to establish a European day on fire safety as a resolution that would initiate one of the key aspects of the improved mechanism, namely prevention and preparedness for disasters.

A year after the start of the Croatian Presidency, the Council of the European, will now be chaired by Portugal. Together with the Portuguese Prime Minister, Members of the European Parliament will discuss the presidency’s programme. One of the priorities is the recovery of the crisis and the vaccination of the European citizens. Next to the work on the EU’s resilience, Portugal will also focus on the implementation of the Green Deal and the EU’s digital agenda. Regarding foreign policy, Zovko underlined that “Since Portugal will hold the first Presidency with the UK as a fully-fledged third country, we need to build a balanced and fair future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the new presidency has to build on the progress made by the Croatian and the German presidency in the EU relations with the Western Balkans.”

The plenary agenda also includes a debate and vote on the report on achieving an effective policy legacy for the European Year of Cultural Heritage. “While the year of cultural heritage took place in 2018, it is still a valuable exercise to look at the lessons learned and create a lasting effective policy for the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage.” Zovko stated. As member of the Committee of Culture and Education, she emphasised the value of cultural heritage to our society. “The economic contribution of well-preserved cultural heritage should not be underestimated. Croatia has a rich cultural heritage that attracts millions of tourists every year. Moreover, it tells a lot about our history, traditions and identity. This source of collective memory has to be cherished and promoted at local, national and European level.” Zovko concluded.

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