The Portuguese Prime Minister believes that the twin climate and digital transitions will only be successful if they are fair and inclusive. “We are here today to renew the European social contract, making a commitment, each one at their own level, to develop innovative and inclusive responses”, said António Costa at the opening session of the Porto Social Summit, under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Prime Minister pointed out that “like any transformation, these changes generate destruction. They bring anxiety to millions of workers faced with new ways of working, they bring a virtualisation of hard-won rights and also raise concerns in small and medium-sized enterprises, fearful of losing competitiveness in the face of new environmental requirements”. Costa stressed that “the European Union must not forget the other side of the coin”, adding that it is necessary “to fight inequalities, create new jobs and ensure requalification and social protection”.
The Portuguese Prime Minister also emphasised that the COVID-19 pandemic “has revealed the importance of a strong welfare state”, but also the “many frailties that still exist”, concluding that “a precarious society is not a resilient society. The recovery must not deal only with the current emergency; the time has come to combine emergency with recovery".
In her speech during the opening ceremony, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, referred to a young Portuguese nurse called Vitória to remind everybody that “Europe is stronger together”, calling for this to be clearly shown at the Porto Social Summit.
“As I was preparing for this summit, I received a letter from a young Portuguese nurse. Her name is Vitória and she wrote to me that she could find a job thanks to one of our Union's social programmes”, she said.
Before an audience of Heads of State and of Government, social and institutional partners and addressing the Portuguese Prime Minister, von der Leyen said that “this is what brings us here to Porto. We are here to build a social Europe that is fit for our day and age, that is delivering on its ambitions. So, thank you dear António [Costa] for your leadership to convene this Social Summit”.
*in collaboration with LUSA