Augusto Santos Silva, who was speaking at the Conference of Presidents of COSAC (the Conference of Specialised Bodies on the Affairs of the Union of Parliaments of the European Union), taking place in the Portuguese Parliament, said that the motto of the Portuguese Presidency is “to do”, i.e. “to contribute to the EU’s response with public policies appropriate to the present [pandemic] crisis and the needs that European citizens feel”.
“What we have learned from the pandemic crisis is the need to strengthen European health policy instruments and so the Portuguese presidency will follow up on the proposals already made by the European Commission to start on the road towards a genuine European for health union, in particular by starting to strengthen the competences of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the European Medicines Agency”, he stressed.
Santos Silva listed the priorities of the Portuguese presidency before the presidents of the European Union’s Parliamentary Committees on European Affairs and representatives of the European Parliament, pointing out that Portugal’s aim is to approve “the many things” that there are to be approved so that “the fundamental instruments” for reviving the European economy – the Multiannual Financial Framework and the Recovery Fund – are on the ground at the end of the presidency.
“Economic recovery must also be a transformation of the European economy. The third major priority is the transformation of the European economy, ensuring success in the dual transition, green and digital. We hope to see the first European Climate Act approved during our presidency, we hope to see the discussion on the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act started during our presidency”, he said.
“We hope to see the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy completed, we will seek to give full emphasis to the European Year of Railways, the new European forestry strategy, the new strategy for the digital decade in Europe. We hope, therefore, that during our presidency the green and digital transition of our societies will progress effectively”, he said.
Recalling that, in this transition, the EU does not want to leave “anyone behind”, Santos Silva said that “the added value of the presidency will be the emphasis of the EU social model”, based on the European Social Pillar.
Finally, the foreign minister pointed to the objective of keeping Europe open to the world, “while reinforcing its autonomy”.
Santos Silva began his speech by distinguishing the fourth Portuguese presidency of the EU, which runs from 1 January to 30 June, from the previous ones, noting that, in 2000, “it was time to draw up a strategy for the EU within a decade” and that, in 2007, “the urgency was to unblock the impact that the Union was then experiencing around its institutional questions and its own nature”.
“We helped to break the deadlock by approving the Treaty of Lisbon. Today, we do not need to tamper with our institutional architecture, we do not need to design new strategies or take new strategic decisions. Our institutional architecture has worked efficiently,” he said.