Video Conference of S3 Sherpas and France
Video Conference of S3 Sherpas and France
State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Ministry of the Slovak Republic Martin Klus held discussions with his partners from the Czech Republic and Austria, as well as with the Minister of State of French Diplomacy in attendance on 13 May 2020.
The talks with Milena Hrdinková, State Secretary for European Affairs of the Government Office of the Czech Republic, Karoline Edtstadler, Federal Minister for the EU of the Republic of Austria, and Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State in charge of European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, was one of the core events of the current Slovak leadership within the extended format of the trilateral platform.
State Secretary Klus highlighted the advantages made possible by the discussion on European issues also in smaller formats. He also added that “it is extremely important to have a pragmatic dialogue in this format with other European partners in all areas where it makes sense, especially concerning European policies, since this enables us to bring adequate stimuli into the European strategic reflection."
The result of the video conference was a fruitful discussion on current topics of the EU agenda such as the exit strategy, the future budget of the EU, the Conference on the Future of Europe, the Western Balkans, the relations with the United Kingdom and the rule of law, which allowed for a better understanding of the areas in which it is possible to achieve constructive results due to the cooperation.
In relation to the gradual relaxing of measures adopted due to the COVID-19, the partners agreed that at the current stage when many countries have already started to relax measures depending on their epidemiologic situation, the coordination of the opening of domestic borders is especially important. They also underlined the importance of joint regulations for the sector of tourism with regard to the approaching tourist season.
There is no need to stress that the COVID-19 pandemic will feature not only in the discussions on the common exit strategy but will also impact the direction of many European policies. Also in this context the talks about the multiannual financial framework and the EU´s recovery plan were held. The partners also exchanged their views on the possible volume of sources for the future budget of the EU and the use of new sources, such as the implementation of the Recovery Fund.
The Conference on the Future of Europe will be an opportunity to search for the answers to the questions about how the EU can function more effectively and more democratically. The partners presented their expectations for the Conference under preparation, as well as their ideas about their views of the future of the EU. They agreed that healthcare and our response to the public health crisis and the individual crisis management will inevitably be reflected in the talks about the future functioning of the EU as well. According to Klus, “the crisis, which Europe is currently facing, is again an opportunity to analyze what is functioning in the EU and what needs to be changed. To some extent this will mean a diagnosis of the current state of the Union – whether the EU meets the needs of the citizens and its member states. However, any reform of the Union cannot be dictated from above, and therefore an open, inclusive and transparent discussion with the citizens will be necessary.”
The partners also delved into the results of the EU summit with the Western Balkan partners held on 6 May 2020. In this context Klus emphasized especially the ongoing support of Slovakia for the integration ambitions of the region and the reform efforts of the individual countries. “In the current situation the meeting demonstrated again the extent to which the EU and the Western Balkans are interconnected. The region is in our immediate neighborhood, which makes it our natural partner in solving any global crisis that influences our continent. The considerable assistance which was announced by the European Commission and almost a full presence of the head representatives demonstrate our interest in this region and show that we care for its future.
As for the talks with the United Kingdom, all the participants expressed their support for maintaining the unity of the EU member states and the efforts in reaching relations that are as close as possible with our partner. The partners also expressed their resolve to constructively and objectively get engaged in the discussion concerning the mechanism for the protection of the rule of law, which the European Commission has launched this year.