Until 30 June 2021, Portugal will be presiding over the Council of the European Union for the fourth time. The Portuguese début in these rotating presidencies took place in 1992, between January and June, under the motto “Towards the European Union”. The main achievements under that presidency consisted of the signing of the Treaty on European Union and of the Agreement on the European Economic Area. 
The most recent rotating presidency, in 2007, defended a “stronger European Union for a better world”, and was marked by the Treaty of Lisbon, which reformed the way in which the EU operated. 

The main objective of the Portuguese Presidency in 2021 is to help the EU through this very difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Portuguese Presidency wants to continue working for an innovative, forward-looking EU, sharing common values of solidarity, convergence and cohesion. During the six months of the Portuguese Presidency, the focus in addition to climate change and digital switchover, is on the rule of law, the fight against discrimination, media diversity and the fight against disinformation.

2021Portugal.eu | © Pedro Sá da Bandeira

In foreign policy, Portugal is working to strengthen the relations with Africa and Latin America, while also paying special attention to the administration of the new US President, Joe Biden.

The Portuguese Presidency undoubtedly started in an extremely difficult situation, as the socio-economic situation caused by the COVID-19 epidemic remains critical. The motto of the Portuguese Presidency is fair, green and digital recovery. Although the three pillars are eloquent in themselves, the aim is to achieve a digital reconstruction that takes account of climate change and involves different social groups. The Portuguese Presidency also aims to strengthen the autonomy of the European Union, while preserving its openness, especially with regard to the fight against climate change and the digital transformation. Another important task of the Portuguese Presidency is to establish a closer and mutually beneficial relationship with Great Britain, which is leaving the EU, in the economic, geopolitical and security fields.

2021Portugal.eu | © Pedro Sá da Bandeira

According to the Portuguese Presidency, defending “European autonomy” is difficult without establishing a flexible, dynamic industrial strategy and strengthening the small and medium-sized enterprises. The use (purchase) of external key technologies is also an important issue, as they reinforce external dependency, and instead of this, the EU should be able to develop such technologies on its own, thus resources should be invested in this. For products and services that cannot be sourced “in-house”, the aim should be to diversify the range of suppliers and source countries as much as possible, also with the aim of reducing external dependence. In the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework, priority will be given to ensuring the proper and efficient use of the financial instruments provided by the Next Generation, thus indirectly supporting Member States in dealing with the crisis caused by COVID-19 and in post-crisis reconstruction (although this is likely to be realised under another Member State’s Presidency). The consolidation of the sectors most affected by the virus (tourism, hospitality and other ‘creative’ industries), from both a micro and a macroeconomic point of view, is of particular importance.

2021Portugal.eu | © Pedro Sá da Bandeira

In the context of COVID-19, Portugal supports the European Health Union, which would not only facilitate and speed up the various processes of health cooperation between Member States in the current situation, but would also allow the EU to respond more flexibly and responsively in the event of a similar situation in the future. In the present case, however, it could play an important role in the redistribution of vaccines. Furthermore, the issue of EU enlargement is one of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency.

Portugal aims to play a positive and flexible role in order to act in a result-oriented way, promote cooperation, achieve tangible results in economic recovery and lead the European Union out of the crisis.