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The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU kicks off with visit by President of the European Council

Met dank overgenomen van Portugees voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2021, gepubliceerd op zaterdag 9 januari 2021.

On 5 January, the Prime Minister, António Costa, welcomed to Lisbon the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, for the first official meeting of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. At the meeting, the two leaders discussed the priorities in the PPEU Programme and the calendar of dossiers to be handled by the Portuguese Presidency until June.

At the subsequent press conference, the Prime Minister started by stressing the necessity and urgency of focussing on economic recovery, going on to praise the "extraordinary work of Germany's Presidency", saying that now it is "time to act". Time to act, putting into practice the decisions already taken to ensure a fair, green and digital recovery, which is precisely the motto adopted by the Portuguese Presidency.

António Costa explained that this recovery is based on two fundamental pillars: the climate and digital transitions, which are an opportunity for developing European economies, and implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the key to creating a solid foundation on which to face precisely the challenges posed by the dual transition (climate and digital). The Prime Minister therefore explained that investment in training, qualifications and innovation, guaranteeing a high level of social protection, is the way to ensure that the transition is in fact an opportunity for everyone and that no one is left behind.

Ensuring Europe's strategic autonomy, whilst keeping it open to the world, is another major priority of the Portuguese Presidency. On this question, António Costa pointed, for example, to the need to build deeper partnerships with Africa, to foster closer ties with the United States, to strengthen the relationship with Latin America and to ensure that Europe is open to the East, through the EU-India Summit, and also by pressing ahead with trade agreements in the Indo-Pacific region.

For his part, Charles Michel declared himself optimistic as regards the Portuguese Presidency, confirming that its priorities are perfectly aligned with the medium and long term goals of the European Union.

Recalling that the European project is based on values, the President of the Council drew attention to the Social Summit, to be held in May, in Porto, saying that it will be an opportunity to demonstrate the added value of the European project. Stressing that Europe belongs to its citizens, the President of the European Council declared that "we are in the same boat and we share the conviction that this must be the moment to carry the European Union forward".

Symbolic visit to the site where Portugal joined the EU

At the end of the meeting, which took place at the Portuguese Presidency headquarters in Centro Cultural de Belém, the Prime Minister António Costa accompanied President Charles Michel on a visit to the nearby Hieronymites Monastery, where the Treaty on Portugal's Accession to the then European Economic Community was signed. They then returned to the CCB to attend the inaugural concert of the Portuguese Presidency, with the Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa, conducted by Joana Carneiro, and a number of Portuguese artists.

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