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Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Irena Andrassy suggested that the current crisis might be seen as a test of the EU’s ability to act as a “global actor.”
Her comments come as European leaders urged all sides to show restraint after the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
In a joint statement, Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the current cycle of violence “must be stopped.”
In the statement, the three leaders urged the country to “reverse all measures inconsistent with” the 2015 nuclear deal.
With tensions rising in the region following the drone strike ordered by President Trump, Iran has responded by vowing revenge and announcing it will no longer abide by the restrictions in the deal.
Andrassy, outlining Croatia’s priorities for its six-month Council presidency, said the EU was “closely monitoring” events in Iran and the wider region and that the bloc was keen to see a de-escalation in tensions.
She also detailed some of the priorities for the Croatian presidency, including the MMF, the long-term budget for the coming seven years which is yet to be finalised.
“Looking ahead we have to try and find ways to leverage EU influence” Irena Andrassy
On the EU budget, she said, “Member states will have to decide what they want the EU to do and it is not just about money but the EU’s vision for the next seven years.”
The presidency, she told a news briefing, hinged on “four pillars” which include creating a “stronger Europe” and boosting connectivity, together with efforts to forge a “strengthened” single market.
She told reporters that tackling migration would be another key objective of the Croatian presidency, which started on 1 January. She hoped the Commission will quickly produce “new ideas” for a “sustainable migration policy.”
Andrassy, Croatia’s most senior diplomat in Brussels, also said the EU was monitoring efforts by Poland and Hungary to comply with EU demands over improvements, under the so-called Article 7 procedure, to the rule of law in each country.
She added, “I think we will have to discuss how effective the Article 7 process is and whether it is delivering results.”
The permanent representative also highlighted two upcoming events: the Western Balkans summit in Zagreb in May, which will discuss further EU enlargement, and also the Conference on the Future of Europe which, she insisted, must involve EU citizens as well as politicians.
Generally, she said the EU and the Croatian presidency, which runs until 30 June, faces numerous challenges and changes in the coming six months, not least of which Brexit and the UK’s upcoming exit from the EU on January 31 which was confirmed after last month’s election in Britain which saw sweeping gains for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives.
“Looking ahead we have to try and find ways to leverage EU influence.”