Challenges and Opportunities for Slovakia’s EU Presidency

In just a matter of days Slovakia will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) for the first time – and at a time of unprecedented challenges and opportunities. Slovakia has the opportunity to build consensus among member states on a variety of important issues that can bring benefits to Europe and beyond.

On the trade and investment front, Slovakia will be at the helm as we work together to conclude the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) in 2016. We can achieve an outcome that is comprehensive and ambitious this year, but both sides need to continue to work with full commitment at an accelerated pace. Consumers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic could benefit from the combination of lower tariffs and greater regulatory cooperation that T-TIP offers.

Slovakia also plans to advance single market initiatives, including the digital single market and energy union. Similar to T-TIP, a digital single market would help consumers and companies by working to eliminate barriers to digital commerce, facilitate the use of electronic services and access to the market, and make electronic content more available, while raising consumer protections.

Slovakia also has the opportunity to move EU member states towards a comprehensive and coordinated response to the current influx of migrants and refugees, which should focus on saving lives, providing timely humanitarian assistance, and promoting orderly and humane migration policies.

At the same time, Slovakia will also play a leadership role as the EU works to bolster its Eastern Partners. It is critical that we remain united in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and together the United States and the EU must work together to enforce sanctions until such time as Russia fulfills its commitments under the Minsk agreements.

In all of these endeavors, transatlantic unity is critical. Only by working together as partners and allies can we bring more prosperity to consumers and companies on both sides of the Atlantic, uphold our shared values, and find common solutions to the challenges of an ever-changing world.