With the support of all 32 members of the Committee on Foreign Affairs from the Socialists and Democrats and no opponents, Croatian MP Tonino Picula was elected to a new two-and-a-half-year term as coordinator and spokesman for foreign affairs of this political group.
"The foreign policy and security challenges currently facing the European Union are almost the most difficult in its 70-year history and can perhaps only be compared to the Cold War situation of the 1950s and 1960s. Tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border, which is spilling over into an energy and economic crisis, America's long-term focus on Asia and the Pacific, the crisis in our immediate neighbourhood, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, are complex and interconnected processes that require the European Union as a whole. endless attention, commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the realisation of the common strategic interests of the EU and its members. It is a great honour for me that my colleagues have placed their trust in me that I will continue to perform these tasks successfully", said Picula.
Just this week, Picula will travel to Ukraine as part of a delegation from the EP's Foreign Affairs Committee, where he will visit the Crimean demarcation line and meet with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Prime Minister Denis Shmihal and Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, as well as representatives of the Ukrainian parliament. Verkhovna Rada, and representatives of non-governmental organisations.
In the past two and a half years of Picula's term as coordinator and author of the report, he has realised some of the most important foreign policy projects and topics of the European Parliament. Last year, his Report on the Future of EU-US Relations was adopted, which is the basis of the European Union's long-term strategy in relations with the United States, but also the backbone of relations with other major powers, and environmental protection.
As coordinator, he helped create some of the most important foreign policy initiatives of the Socialists and Democrats, which received the support of the European Parliament, such as recommendations on EU enlargement and IPA III package of pre-accession assistance for candidate and future EU candidate countries.
Picula's S&D group has also been entrusted with reports on Brexit, Libya, Palestine, Turkey, Albania and the future of multilateralism, and in an address to his appointing colleagues he announced that he would work on obtaining new reports in the second half of his term. His work was also recognized by Vote Watch, which again included him among the 100 most influential MPs, the only one from Croatia, as well as the third most influential in the field of foreign policy in the EP in 2021.
As coordinator, he continues with the tasks of chairing meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg, where all foreign policy reports on individual countries and topics are passed before each vote in the committee. The coordinator is also responsible for voting lists, informing MPs of their views and determining the positions of the parliamentary group in case there are problematic issues. It is the coordinator who makes decisions on the agenda; which reports and when they will be put on the group's agenda, determines which of the group's representatives will work on which report as a rapporteur or shadow rapporteur and who will be given the floor at the plenary session on foreign policy issues.
In his thirty-year political career, Picula has focused primarily on foreign policy, international relations and security. From 2000 to 2003, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia. During his previous term in the EP, he was the President of the Delegation for Relations with BiH and Kosovo (2014-2019), and was responsible for reports on Ukraine and Northern Macedonia on behalf of the group. He coordinated and led OSCE election missions in Moldova (2010), Kazakhstan (2011), Russia (2012), Georgia (2012) and Armenia (2013). He has also been the Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly since 2011, the Rapporteur of the OSCE PA Political and Security Committee (2010-2011), and the Head of the Croatian Parliament Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.