On 8 May 2019, Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Croatian Prime Minister Plenković participated in a Citizens' Dialogue in Zagreb, at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Economics.
The audience was mainly university students and professors from the Faculty of Economics - total 220 participants. The focus of the discussion was Brexit and the future of Europe.
At the beginning, Croatian Prime Minister Plenković addressed the pubic and made a brief retrospective of Croatia’s’ path towards the EU membership. He spoke about the transformation of Croatia and how the whole process helped the country to achieve major strategic developments.
He also tackled the topic of Brexit and how important it is for the EU to stay unified and strong. At the end of his first address, he talked about Croatian’s Presidency in 2020 and a very important role Croatia will have in leading final negotiations on MFF.
Brexit Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier made a presentation about challenges ahead of the EU and estimates for the future. The slides showed that from now until 2050 estimates point to an economic decline from both EU27 and the UK (outside the EU). These figures also served to make a case for the EU27 Member States to stick together and to ensure the EU does not stay too much behind other major players. He explained briefly Brexit negotiations and what major areas were negotiated, such as citizen rights, Northern Ireland, financial settlements. He pointed out that the EU can deal with challenges only if Member States act together. He identified irregular migrations, climate change, defence and security as major challenges.
The audience wanted to know about the impact Brexit will have on the situation in Ireland and how the EU will resolve this issue. They also wanted to hear more about the issues related to irregular migrations and how this problem will be dealt with in future. They expressed concerns about how migrations might affect the safety of the EU citizens. The audience also wanted to hear how Croatia would position itself in negotiations for the new financial envelope, given the reductions caused by Brexit. Some expressed concerns that Croatia, as a small country, cannot play a major role in the EU decision-making process.