Zovko “The EU needs to find a middle way between the French notion of European autonomy and the German idea of European sovereignty”

Zagreb, 26 August 2021


This week, the annual conference of ambassadors, consuls general, consuls and military envoys of the Republic of Croatia took place in Zagreb, organised by the Ministry for external and European affairs. During the different lectures and panel discussions, the participants debated about issues such as the latest developments in Croatia, the European Union and NATO. Zeljana Zovko participated as Vice-Chair of the Committee of Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament (AFET) and presented the work of this Committee and to reflect on the latest activities.

In her presentation, Zovko stated that in several AFET reports, the Members of the European Parliament concluded that a stronger, more ambitious, credible and united common foreign policy has become crucial, as the EU is facing multidimensional geopolitical challenges. According to Zovko, a stronger European strategic autonomy would enhance the Union’s leadership on the international scene so the EU can maintain the rules-based international order, which guarantees multilateralism. “While finding a middle way between the French notion of European autonomy and the German European sovereignty, the key objective remains to improve our defence capabilities and to secure our European interests, values, peace and stability. We should rethink our interdependencies and be able to act more autonomously when necessary,” she said and added that developing a stronger strategic autonomy doesn’t mean weakening the transatlantic cooperation in security with USA, Canada and UK. “On the contrary it makes us stronger and a more reliable partner on equal footing with big players in volatile world,” Zovko stated.

Creating a European strategic autonomy is a multifaceted operation and Croatia can play a key role in the development of this concept of strategic autonomy. Zovko reasoned that Croatia’s history provides a good example of this process, as it has been through it itself at great expense and risk.

Security at the European external border and in its immediate neighbourhood is according to Zovko another crucial aspect of the successful development of European strategic autonomy. In its Western Balkans policies, the EU does not only aim to prepare these countries for their accession, but also invests in their stability via the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA III). As a front line most affected member state of the Union and NATO, Croatia carries an important responsibility. Zovko concluded that the EU can learn a lot from Croatia from a historical perspective and through closer knowledge of its neighbours due to proximity and ties that that the EU should build on.

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