Portugal's prime minister said that vaccination against Covid-19 should be one of the top priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, said that vaccination against Covid-19 should be one of the top priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), after a meeting with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
“This is (…) the time to all prepare ourselves for what is the great priority of humanity next year and of Europe next semester: to ensure that we have a vaccine available that is effective in stopping covid and that allows us to reach all the countries of Europe on the same day and, from there, to ensure a fair vaccination that ensures global immunisation against Covid,” said António Costa.
António Costa made statements to the press after a meeting with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, where the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) were mentioned.
Charles Michel also stressed that the Portuguese Presidency would take place at a historic moment because it would lead the EU into a post-Covid era.
Among the priorities discussed by the two leaders, Charles Michel said he knew that he would have the full support of Portugal on climate commitments and the digital transformation, welcoming the opening of Portugal to the world, as underlined at the summit scheduled for May in Porto, which will bring together European leaders with the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi.
“Portugal’s openness to the world will also be reflected in its Presidency, by presenting a global Europe, based on multilateralism,” Michel said.
Costa also referred to the EU’s foreign policy, namely the strengthening of the continent’s strategic autonomy combined with openness to the world, as one of the priorities of the Portuguese presidency.
“We will work together with the President of the Council and the High Representative for External Relations, with a view not only to deepening this fundamental and unique relationship that Europe can build with Africa, [but also] the new relations it must establish within the Indo-Pacific region, and in particular with India, and also the transatlantic relations that we must strengthen, not only with the Biden administration but also with Latin America,” Costa said.
The two leaders also identified the organisation of the summit on the Social Pillar in Porto, scheduled for 7 and 8 May, as the main priority of the Portuguese presidency.
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said that it will be the highlight of the Portuguese semester because it will give a new ‘impetus’ to the implementation of the Action Plan of the European Social Rights Pillar.
Costa also stressed the major priority of strengthening and developing the social pillar of the European Union, expressing the wish to adopt a declaration for the development of social rights.
“The Social Pillar is fundamental to give citizens confidence in the face of the huge challenges that climate change and digital transition offers. We must ensure that no one is left behind and that everyone is needed. We are counting on everyone and everyone has a chance to live in that Europe that will be strengthened by climate change and digital switchover,” Costa said.
Costa highlighted the climate issue as another of Portugal’s major goals, stating that Europe should be ambitious, even if it were to count on the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement.
“It is essential that Europe gives a very clear signal that it intends to remain in the leadership of this climate transition process,” Costa stressed.
He concluded by saying that the Portuguese Presidency would seek to strengthen the EU as the common home of all Europeans and based on the fundamental values which make this Union, first and foremost, a Union of values.
The spokesman for the European Council also said that an official presentation of the Portuguese Presidency’s programme would be made on Friday and the official website for the Portuguese six-month period would be published.
The fourth Portuguese Presidency of the EU begins on 1 January, with Europe still facing the Covid-19 pandemic, which is setting the agenda for the Council’s six-monthly rotating leadership, having already dominated that of the German Presidency in the second half of 2020.