On 1 July 2021 Slovenia took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU from Portugal. COVID-19 is one of the most severe crises the Union has ever faced and European societies, democracies and economies are only just beginning to heal. After three ‘Corona’ presidencies –Croatia, Germany and Portugal– the Slovenian Presidency’s prior focus should be to start leading the Union towards its future. The implementation of Next Generation EU is without doubt the most important item on the agenda. Now that all member states have ratified the Own Resources Decision, the time has come to start financing and implementing the national Recovery and Resilience Plans. Secondly, the Conference on the Future of Europe has already kicked off. Citizens’ panels and plenaries will take place during the Slovenian Presidency. Thirdly, the broader debate on strategic autonomy will also be on the table waiting for a real attribution to the term and giving substance to it through the ongoing process for the adoption of the Strategic Compass and new initiatives in the fields of digital, trade, finance and others. The Union has recently pushed to achieve a common stance, be it against Turkey, Russia or Belarus. How to deal with these external challenges should be at the core of the discussion.
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