EU/India summit ‘jewel in the crown’ of Presidency

  • Lusa
  • 23 November 2020

The prime minister António Costa highlighted on Monday the EU summit with India and the completion of the Sines/Brazil cable link.

Portugal’s prime minister said on Monday that the Portuguese presidency of the European Union intended to follow Portugal’s historic line as a platform on a global scale, highlighting the summit with India and the completion of the Sines/Brazil cable link.

“Portugal has always stood out in Europe as a platform for connection on a global scale,” António Costa said at a conference at the Catholic University in Lisbon on Portugal’s plan for the EU Council Presidency in the first half of next year.

After an introduction by the former President of the European Commission and Prime Minister between 2002 and 2004, José Manuel Durão Barroso, the current leader of the Portuguese government made an initial speech of about 40 minutes in which he began by warning that holding face-to-face meetings in the first six months of 2021 depends on developments in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal, Europe and the world.

If the sanitary conditions so allow, “in foreign policy matters, the jewel in the crown of the Portuguese presidency will be the holding of the summit of all European leaders with the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, on 8 May in Porto.”

“This will be the first meeting of all European leaders with the Indian prime minister. It is a meeting that I consider of the utmost importance for Europe to emphasise the importance of the relationship with the whole Indo-Pacific region, in view of its diversification among the different powers that exist there, such as China, Japan, New Zealand and Australia and India.”

“India is the largest democracy in the world and we need to appreciate that we have an increasingly close relationship, not least because of the contribution we can make together to key components of the climate and digital transition processes. I speak here of the development of artificial intelligence or data science. Europe and India can develop a close alliance for the future,” he said.

In addition to this summit, Costa said that “there will be a very important symbolic moment in June, which will be the mooring in Sines of a large submarine cable – the EllaLink – linking Europe and America [Fortaleza, Brazil], with the presence of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

“It will symbolically mark what has always been Portugal’s traditional function as a platform for connecting with other continents,” she said.

At this point in his speech, the prime minister said that Portugal, on a global political level, should contribute to counteracting a bipolar vision of the world, valuing multipolarity as a counterpoint, “where relations with Latin America are fundamental elements.”

During the six months of Portugal’s presidency, trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand could also be concluded and the first trade agreement with Morocco opened.

“This is the way forward for a Europe that wants greater strategic autonomy, but does not believe in protectionism, but rather in free trade regulation on a global scale,” he said.

In addition to the signing of the partnership agreement with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, also scheduled for the first half of 2021, António Costa also spoke of “an uncertain moment.”

“If it is not possible by then [because of Covid-19], we will hold a personal meeting between the leaders of the African Union and the European Union. I hope that it can take place in the next half-year because we have a geographical neighbourhood, cultural proximity and historical (sometimes traumatic) relationship between Europe and Africa,” he pointed out.

Costa said the “Euro-African axis is fundamental for the world of the future if we do not want that world to be exclusively bipolar.”

“We have an opportunity to strengthen relations now that the African Union has signed a free trade agreement which creates new opportunities for relations,” he added.