This morning, at the plenary session of the European Parliament, the Portuguese Prime Minister presented the programme for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, telling the MEPs about the priorities for the next six months.
“It's time to deliver on the vaccination process. It's time to deliver on economic and social recovery. It's time to deliver in order to develop the social pillar. It's time to deliver in order to strengthen the strategic autonomy of a European Union open to the world”. These were the words of António Costa, summing up the guidelines that will steer the Portuguese Presidency.
Bearing in mind that “the utmost attention which the fight against the pandemic requires of us must not allow us to neglect the strategic challenges that are still facing us”, the Prime Minister suggested that “the recovery cannot be limited to responding to present needs with temporary fixes, but with investments and reforms that will allow us to come out of this crisis more resilient, more digital and greener”.
Congratulations to the new President of the United States
On the day that Joe Biden took office as the President of the United States of America (USA), António Costa wished him “every success in his mandate” and reinforced the importance of relaunching transatlantic relations between the European Union and the USA, as well as relations with the United Kingdom which, as the Prime Minister said, will continue to be “an important partner of the European Union”.
But it's also time to deliver on the future of Europe
António Costa added that he wants to give impetus to the Conference on the Future of Europe, a mechanism aimed at giving Europeans a voice in the actions of the European Union, maintaining that this should be focused on the anxieties and concerns of its citizens and aimed at specific policies. “While we hold the Presidency of the Council, we will do everything we can to ensure that the Conference will get underway as soon as possible”, he said.
Highlighting that respect for the Rule of Law is a necessary condition for Member States to belong to the European Union, António Costa also promised to “continue to work on the processes already underway in this area”.
The hopes for the Portuguese Presidency
At the joint press conference with the President of the European Parliament and the President of the European Commission, held following the plenary session, Prime Minister António Costa also added that he hopes the Portuguese Presidency will result in a declaration that is “a very strong commitment from all of us to develop the European social pillar and to establish a new partnership with India”.
António Costa also referred to his intention to do everything in the power of the Portuguese Presidency in order to “swiftly move ahead with the vaccination plan in the 27 Member States, which is essential for everything else”. And he highlighted the importance of concluding “all the institutional acts for the approval of the instruments to permit” the establishment of a Recovery and Resilience Plan that will begin, within these six months, “to be clearly seen in the transfers made to companies and to citizens, in order to revitalise the European economy”.