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Presidency expects “a giant leap” in the European social agenda

03 May · 12h00

Ana Paula Zacarias, Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs © Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021 / Pedro Sá da Bandeira

The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU expects the Porto Social Summit to allow major consensus to be reached between governments, social partners and civil society regarding the European social agenda for the next decade, with ambitious goals and changes that it admits will be slow.

“It's not a question of a paradigm shift, paradigm shifts do not happen in one conference, but it is a giant leap which is turning principles into action”, according to the Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, stressing that the principles agreed in Gothenburg in 2017 will take several years to implement.

“First, the principles were approved in 2017. So, we've had a few years to reach the idea that we needed to have a set of goals. From here until the point where we have binding legal commitments will take as many years again. It will take time, but we do want Porto to serve as a touchstone”, she emphasised.

The Social Summit could also help to determine the legislative approach for a number of European Commission proposals, particularly: the minimum wage directive, the pay transparency directive, the proposed recommendation on the child guarantee, the proposals on women in management positions, the strategies for the homeless and the European strategy for people with disabilities. “These aspects are all complementary to what we will be doing in Porto”, Ana Paula Zacarias said.

The main goals propose that 78% of adults in Europe will have a job by 2030, that at least 60% of people will do one or more training courses a year, and lifting “at least” 15 million Europeans out of poverty, of whom five million will be children.

“The Member States must commit to these goals and say ‘yes’, and we must be able to use the European social agenda as a way out of the crisis and put ourselves on a more cohesive trajectory. We need to reach these goals. Each one will do what they can with their own social systems and through the joint action of all the Member States”, Zacarias said.

“If companies, business associations, trades unions and the social platform also indicate their willingness to work towards these goals, I believe we will have a very broad consensus here, because only governments were present in Gothenburg”, according to the Secretary of State, who expects that “a giant leap” will be taken at the Porto Social Summit.


*in collaboration with LUSA