First ever Slovak Presidency: a moment of opportunity at a crucial point for the EU

Today Slovakia took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for which I would like to express my congratulations. It is an important moment for Slovakia as the country will hold the Presidency for the first time. Our Slovak friends come to lead the European Union in difficult times. The European project is at a time when it has to prove its resilience and I see the Slovak leadership as one to guide Europe through periods of concern.

I believe that this presidency will be one to further forge the unity and solidarity of the nations in Europe. There is immense opportunity in each moment of uneasiness and we need to look at the current times from this perspective.

As a Commissioner for Regional Policy I support the Presidency’s agenda focused on jobs and growth, improving social conditions, dealing with migration challenges and ensuring internal security. I underline the importance of Cohesion Policy in delivering the agenda and I would like to stress that we are at a turning point for Europe and we must see the advantages in this. We need to look towards the future, at how best cohesion policy can support the citizens of Europe. The new Presidency will have to work on these aspects too: first of all, on the review of the top up mechanism for Member States with temporary budgetary difficulties, as well as the technical adjustments of the cohesion policy envelopes for the years 2017-2020. And finally, there will be the review of the Multi-annual Financial Framework, which may trigger a broader debate about priorities for the EU budget and orientations for the post-2020 period. I am confident that Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini and his team will do their best in the role of the honest broker to advance and conclude these files. They can, of course, count on my full support.

In this context, I am pleased to see that Slovakia is taking steps towards bettering the policy by organizing an important conference on cohesion policy in September. Taking stock of the state of play of implementation and experience so far is a good starting point for reflection on perspectives for the future. I look forward to participating in this conference and wish Slovakia good luck and every success during their Presidency. All together we must increase the well-being of the people of the EU and I am convinced that this Presidency will deliver the Union through these challenging times.

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