Slovakia will replace the Netherlands to take over the rotating six-month EU Presidency from July to December 2016. What has changed after the 5 March elections in terms of its outlook, was the subject of Dennik N report on Monday 7 March. The report compiles comments by Milan Nič, Director of CEPI, and Katarina Mathernovawho serves as Deputy Director General of DG NEAR (Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations).

Slovak Presidency was also on the agenda of the Monday’s emergency EU meeting over the refugee crisis. Slovakia will start transferring responsibilities from its Dutch counterparts earlier in May so that it is ready to officially assume the EU Presidency on 1 July 2016. ‘It is, therefore, essential to have the new, stable government by then, for it serves as one of the principal conditions of a smooth Presidency’, says Director of the Central European Policy Institute Milan Nič.

The preparations for the EU Presidency started two years ago, so the diplomatic and the bureaucratic apparatus is ready. Even before the elections, there has been a strong political consensus that Ivan Korčok will retain his position as the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Presidency.

It will be a Brussels-based Presidency. The most important work will be, thus, carried out by the Presidency team at the Permanent Representation office in Brussels who will chair the EU Council working groups and other formats. Nonetheless, Katarina Mathernova notes that these are indeed difficult times for Slovakia to assume its first Presidency of the Council of the EU.

According to Milan Nič, Slovakia will during its Presidency not be enjoying a great deal of support from the European Commision and Germany, the two most relevant players in the EU, due to our confrontational stance on the issue of migration as well as the law suit filed by the Slovak government against the EU because of the mandatory quota system for refugee relocation.

However, in case Prime Minister Fico retains his office, Ms Mathernova expects him to smooth up his rhetoric: operating from the middle ground is crucial for successfully presiding over a group 28 nations. Milan Nič believes that if we are to expect early elections in Slovakia following its EU Presidency they should not be taking place before March 2017 so that the election campaign does not overlap and interfere with its agenda.

You can read the full text of the article (in Slovak) here.