The EU energy policy, especially in the field of transport, the EU defense policy, that has been intensifying over the last few years, and the EU’s enlargement policy are the key issues I have dealt with during my tenure and I would like to continue working on them. However, my candidacy depends on the political party Glas of which I am a member.
“The European project is extremely important and despite its weaknesses, it has accomplished serious results“, says Jozo Radoš, a member of the European Parliament, who is not reluctant to deal with a number of interesting and complex topics in his next term.
The next elections for the European Parliament will be held from 23rd to 26th May 2019. A total of 705 MPs will be elected into the next Parliament convocation, with Croatia having 12 instead of the current 11 MPs. Will you run for these elections and with will be your election message?
The possibility of running for an MP is still open, but it will depend on what the Glas party, of which I a member, decides and on the coalition agreements. The message that I would like to focus on is the usefulness of the European project and the need for strengthening the EU despite some of its weaknesses and sluggishness. Other messages relate to the topics I have already dealt with, which are still very important and to which I could make further contribution. These topics are the EU energy policy, especially in the field of transport, the EU defense policy, that has been intensifying over the last few years, and the EU’s enlargement policy.
How would you assess your work in the EP in the past period and what would you like to single out as your key accomplishments?
In terms of energy, I helped with the establishment of the real relations between ambitions and opportunities in terms of renewable energy sources and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, pointing to the direction of energy policy that the Republic of Croatia should take. In the defense area, I supported a stronger and more original common security and defense policy. By supporting the enlargement policy, I insisted on the need to meet the general democratic standards, pointing to the similarities and the need for a more comprehensive approach to the countries of Southeast Europe. My special contribution to the resolutions of the European Parliament was reflected in the need for cooperation in the process of finding missing persons and protecting and defending the victims of war. A number of European Parliament documents contain my suggestions on the need to simplify the use of European funds and facilitate direct access to these funds for local self-governments, particularly those in rural, mountainous and remote areas. I made a very concrete requirement for Luka Rijeka (The Port of Rijeka) to join the European Baltic-Adriatic Transport Corridor, which can also be found in a series of Parliament’s documents.
How could we stimulate citizens / voters to get more involved in the elections for the EP?
Certainly, more attention should be paid to what is happening in European institutions, especially in the European Parliament, which, as the only directly elected EU body, is closest to citizens. Of course, it is important to present to the citizens those topics that are close to them and which concern them directly, as well as to present them in a way that is not overwhelming to them. The EU has a variety of campaign approaches to citizens, such as the special EP offices in the member states, but this is not enough to make the EU’s complex policies more interesting to citizens. One of the steps that would make the EU more interesting would be the introduction of the first candidate on the European electoral list (the so-called spitzen candidate) as the candidate for the president of the European Commission. In the future, multi-national or all-European electoral lists can work on making the complex processes and the distant EU member states more familiar to each citizen of the Union.
What kind of initiatives do Croatian citizens usually approach you with? What are the key topics that you can assist with?
In fact, there were no major and organized initiatives by the citizens. The procedures of submitting official initiatives and the direct participation of citizens are quite complicated and there is evidently no great interest in them. Citizens are addressing the EP through the Petitions Committee, most often on issues that concern them directly and individually. During my term, there were several campaigns related to the European Parliament’s issues such as the Istanbul Convention and the issue of copyright protection in the digital domain, but they were more of a European than a specific Croatian campaign.
I can contribute to the the topics I have already dealt with, which I am more familiar with and which are quite complicated. I have already mentioned what topics are these. But I also need to deal with those topics that are not listed in my scope of work, but are important for the EU and its citizens. Of course, in some issues we need to recognize the specific situation in Croatia and its national interests and formulate our position accordingly.
- Institutional action and the ability to influence decision-making certainly contributes to the better position of Croatia. You are the vice chairman of the TRAN – the Transport and Tourism Committee, and Croatia, as a tourist country, is definitely interested in this. What is the EP doing to improve this segment?
Although tourism is not directly under the EU’s authority, a special working group has been formed in the Transport and Tourism Committee. The role of this group and the EP itself is of an advisory nature. Thus, in this mandate, a resolution on the promotion of European tourism was adopted, with some of my proposals included. Working for the Committee, I was more concerned with the expansion of the large European TEN-T network to include the Republic of Croatia, and via Croatia, the neighbouring countries in the south and east too. I have been particularly dealing with renewable energy sources in transport and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. I tried to introduce the Croatian public to European policies and to underline the policies that Croatia could and should lead in that sense. I use this opportunity to reiterate that when it comes to these policies, we at the very bottom of the EU. These are very expensive and very complex policies and I would like to continue dealing with them. I will mainly use the period up until the EP elections to present these topics to the Croatian public.
- You are a member of the Committee for Stabilization and Accession of Montenegro into the EU and the Delegation for Relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. How do you comment on their efforts to join the EU?
I am a member of the European Parliament’s committees for the aforementioned three countries and a shadow rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in my political groupation, ALDE. Although this whole process is developing very slowly, Montenegro is at the forefront, and the other two countries are at the back. It is logical that these processes are slow because they are about changing the way the whole societies operate, and these are cultural changes that cannot happen overnight. European institutions call for understanding, patience, perseverance and setting requirements that are as precise and as logical as possible so that they will be easy to understand and monitor. I do not think that should be credited only to me, but the approach I have been perpetuating since the beginning of my term – that is that the accession of the Western Balkan countries and the islands in the EU are in the EU’s interest – is now heard by high officials of the Union. For the EU, these countries can be a source of instability in the immediate neighborhood and a platform for certain non-European interests, or a space for free communication, a full cooperation and a bridge towards south and east.
- How do you view the European project today; how far is it from the desired results and what should be done to reform and advance it?
The European project has been facing challenges since its inception, but despite this, it has been constantly progressing. Sometimes there are small obstacles in some areas with the project continuing to develop in another segments. Every time period carries certain circumstances and limitations, but there is enough room to ensure an even stronger integration. For example, during this term, the Union still needs to finish the projects of the Energy Union, the Digital Union, the Defense Union, and the Banking Union, but each of them has made progress, bigger or smaller. One of the biggest future EU goals should be to gain more power to influence relations in the world, in accordance with the Union’s economic impact, particularly in areas of direct concern such as Africa and Asia. This need for sovereignty was recently mentioned by the President of the European Commission, Mr Juncker.
8. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, what is your view of the external challenges facing Europe. What are the solutions and how to harmonize them because there are many different interests?
The differences are great and come naturally, but they also do a lot of damage due to lack of unity I am particularly pleased with the new momentum that has been gained as a result of the Common Security and Defense Policy in the last few years, partly because of the opposition from the US administration. A step forward would be to abandon the consensual decision-making in this sensitive segment of EU policy.