Five debates were on the agenda for the plenary session of the European Parliament, which Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, took part in as representative of the Council of the European Union.
During the debate on the “European Semester ”, the Secretary of State announced the organisation of a conference entitled "Recovery Summit – Shaping European Growth" to discuss the outlook for the current economic and financial situation. The summit will be held in Lisbon on 21 June. Ana Paula Zacarias reiterated that the main goals of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union in this area are to reach the end of the half-year with all national plans duly approved and with the Council Decision on the system of own resources of the European Union ratified by all the Member States.
In the debate on the “Action Plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, in preparation for the Social Summit” to be held in Porto in May, Ana Paula Zacarias said that this Action Plan and all the instruments associated with it are “significant steps towards building a stronger social Europe”.
The Portuguese Presidency thus intends to use this Social Summit to reinforce the social dimension of Europe in order to respond to the challenges of climate change and the digital transition and to send a clear signal that the European Union promotes policies that put people and their well-being at the centre of its concerns.
“European values are not negotiable”: equal rights and freedom of the press
Ensuring that nobody is left behind is of vital importance for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Secretary of State for European Affairs took the opportunity to make this very clear during the debate on the “Proclamation of the EU as an LGBTIQ Freedom Zone”. Recalling that, although it is now 2021, discrimination against LGBTIQ people regrettably continues to exist, Ana Paula Zacarias said that the values of the European Union that guarantee the equality of all citizens are not negotiable and that there should be no room in Europe for any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The mass media as a “central pillar of European democratic societies” must continue to be based on the promotion and the protection of the Rule of Law. In the discussion on “government attempts to silence the free mass communication media in Poland, Hungary and Slovenia”, Ana Paula Zacarias emphasised the importance of the European Union and national institutions assuring that the independent, free and diverse mass media prosper, that journalists are protected from any harmful interference with their work and that citizens have access to reliable information.
Finally, establishing a fair and efficient taxation model, reinforcing governance mechanisms and overall fiscal transparency and the intensification of the fight against tax fraud were the ideals defended by Ana Paula Zacarias in the last debate she took part in during this plenary session, on “The reform of the political framework in the European Union to put an end to tax avoidance in the EU, following the OpenLux revelations”.