At a moment when the COVID-19 pandemic poses difficult and significant challenges to the EU, Portugal's Presidency will do everything to ensure that these six months mark the start of a new cycle in Europe.
One of the main priorities is to implement the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027 and of the EU Next Generation Instrument (Next Generation EU), which include a series of innovative financial instruments for supporting the upturn in Europe, in particular the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The approval and execution of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans will be another priority.
The resilience of the EU also depends on defending its fundamental values. We will accordingly work to defend and consolidate the Rule of Law, combat all forms of discrimination, promote pluralism in the media and combat disinformation.
A central theme of Portugal's Presidency will be to strengthen the European social model, so as to transmit a sense of confidence to citizens. The aim will be to ensure that the dual climate and digital transition is achieved in an inclusive way, without leaving anyone behind, whilst addressing the social dimension of the pandemic.
In May, Porto hosts the Social Summit which will be divided into two key moments: a High Level Conference on 7 May, with broad participation by European institutions, Member States, social partners and civil society, followed, on 8 May, by an Informal Meeting of European Leaders. The aim is to give political momentum to realising the European Pillar of Social Rights in the life of European citizens, where the central topics will be employment, qualifications and social protection.
Portugal's Presidency will support the creation of a European Health Union, which strengthens the capacity to respond to public health crises and to produce and distribute safe vaccines, in Europe and beyond. We will contribute to ensuring that the process of vaccination against COVID-19 takes place simultaneously in all Member States and that the vaccine is a universal good, both public and free.
In the domain of external action, Portugal's Presidency will invest in strengthening multilateralism and affirming the European Union as a global player, whose leadership is needed in all areas and topics of the international agenda. One of the highlights in this area will be the Informal Meeting of European Leaders with the Prime Minister of India, in order to give momentum to stronger political and economic dialogue.
Portugal's Presidency will also pay particular attention to neighbouring countries, to the European Union's relations with Africa, and also with Latin America. Another priority will be transatlantic relations and a renewed agenda with the incoming US administration.
Lastly, Portugal's will be the first rotating presidency to deal with the United Kingdom's definitive departure from the EU's Internal Market and Customs Union. With a provisional agreement now in place on the future relationship between the two sides, Portugal's Presidency will work to obtain its definitive approval and then its implementation, so that the United Kingdom and the European Union can consolidate a strong partnership, in the economic, geopolitical and security fields.