The Polish Perspective of the EU Council Presidency
On 11th of April 2016, the Department of International Relations and European Integration (DRIIE) from the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA) hosted the open lecture on the EU Council Presidency – The Polish Perspective of the EU Council Presidency – with the support of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Bucharest.
The event was the first from a series of reunions with ambassadors of the European Union Member States in Romania, having the overarching theme The Rotating EU Council Presidency. The subject is of utmost importance for Romania, that will hold the Council Presidency in the second half of 2019 for the first time since its accession to the EU, and its promotion started in the SNSPA academic environment during the fall of 2015 through the Jean Monnet Module EU*Ro Media. European Standards, Romanian Application: The Media Roadmap for Romania’s EU Council Presidency.
The EU*Ro Media Module is a partner of DRIIE regarding the organization of the series of reunions taking place over the next three years which is in itself an important step in the implementation of the project’s aim to bring the subject into the public opinion’s attention with the help of Romanian journalists trained in investigating and reporting European Affairs.
Overview of the event
The Open lecture was given by His Excellency Mr. Marcin Wilczek, Ambassador of the Polish Republic in Romaniato over 35 attendees from both the academic environment and the civil society who listened to an overall presentation of Poland’s experience in preparing and carrying out the agenda for the EU Council Presidency for the first time in 2011.
While the presentation had a more general stance, touching upon subjects such as the legal framework for the Council Presidency after the Treaty of Lisbon, the choice of places for the informal inter-ministerial meetings in Poland, the number of experts trained for the Presidency corps and the budget allocated for the traineeships, the promotional campaign and last, but not least, the main achievements and shortcomings of the Polish Presidency, it however sparked a lively debate on other aspects of interest for the audience.
Mr. Wilczek’s account was followed by a series of questions from the public regarding Poland’s success in improving the country’s image in the EU, the promotion of its own agenda and alliance-formation, the relevance of negotiations with Cyprus and Denmark, but also with other member states in setting the 18 month agenda, the convergence of Polish objectives for the Council Presidency across the party system, the cooperation with the civil society, the prioritization of the budget and last, but not least, the partnership between Romania and Poland in the next three years.
Briefly, the answer to all of these questions is that the EU Council Presidency represented both a challenge and also an achievement for Poland in terms of changing the misconceptions about it as an Eastern underdeveloped state, bringing the citizens closer to the EU decision-making process by involving the locals in the organization of the informal meetings with European delegates in different cities in Poland and promoting the national artists through the gifts offered during the officials’ visits in the country. Moreover, holding the Council Presidency was an exercise for Poland which had to prove its ability to work in a team towards achieving results that benefited the EU as a whole and this was most important when working together with member states having different interests and views. The ability to work in a team and most often to play the role of team leader helped cement the image of Poland as an honest broker during negotiations. Overall, the Polish EU Council Presidency was a solid first time experience and its success rests mainly upon the sound cooperation between the national administration and the civil society, including the media, common citizens and the academic environment whose input proved to be decisive in the first phase of the training civil servants had to undergo. This could as well be a model for Romania which has to go through similar preparations for the Council Presidency in 2019. In light of this event that will span over a six month period, Romania can find a reliable partner in Poland primarily on subjects of common geostrategic concern such as security and neighbourhood cooperation in the framework of the EU-NATO relations and the EU policies, but also on economic matters.
Open lecture outcomes
The audience attending the event managed to get a better grasp of the Polish experience prior and during the six month Presidency and understand both the opportunities and challenges arising from such a high level task. Aside from the general information H.E Mr. Martin Wilczek provided, the picture regarding the agenda setting was filled in with more in-depth details following the Q&A session and in the end the attendees were provided with a clearer management model Romania could follow in its steps for the second half of 2019.