Interview with Mr Peter Javorčik, Slovak Ambassador to the EU
Following Slovakia’s six month Presidency of the EU Council, we caught up with Ambassador Javorčik, Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the EU, to talk about Slovakia’s experience at the helm.
Take a look at the video above, and read below for the full interview featured on our blog.
What was (were) the biggest challenge(s) you faced dealing with the Slovak Presidency’s four priorities?
Before the beginning of our term, we decided to focus on delivering positive, tangible results in four priority areas – namely economy, the single market, migration and asylum policy, an external dimension. We were also set to help overcome a growing sense of fragmentation. Later, the Bratislava roadmap also became a strong guiding principle for our work.
Even in retrospective, I believe that our approach and priorities were chosen well. We managed to deliver on all fronts, showing that speed and quality can go hand in hand. We also went way beyond the least common denominator and that is valuable, too.
Perhaps, trade was an area which unexpectedly played a much stronger role in our work. In particular, the CETA as well as the modernisation of trade defence instruments, a file frozen in the Council for some three years. And as we see, free and fair trade policy is something that will be high on the EU’s as well as global agenda this year, too.
Following your turn at the helm of the EU Presidency, do the Slovak citizens and institutions feel more European?
I believe that the Presidency has brought the EU closer to our citizens. From the very beginning, we made sure that the public is as engaged as possible. For instance, we offered Presidency internships to 30 young professionals and launched a grant scheme supporting Presidency-related projects by schools, NGOs or other organisations across all regions of Slovakia. We hope to build on this approach and currently, we are exploring a possibility to start a Back to school initiative linked to the Presidency.
What is your dream for the EU?
As the saying goes, to know your future, you must understand your past. Therefore, we should never forget that the EU was built on reconciliation and has brought unprecedented peace and stability to our countries. Nowadays, it is ever-more clear that peace and stability should never be taken for granted.
In addition, the EU improves lives – and not only economically but also through values that it represents and stands for. So without going into possible, prospective institutional modalities of the EU, first and foremost I hope that our continent will see a peaceful, stable and prosperous future based on mutual cooperation.
We have just celebrated 30 years of Erasmus Plus, one of our most successful programmes, which gives young people, students and teachers an enriching opportunity to experience the EU as truly their environment. I would wish that the spirit of Erasmus Plus is present across many more fields of cooperation.