Until 30 June 2021, Portugal will be presiding over the Council of the European Union for the fourth time. The first was the first half of 1992, the second in 2000, and the most recent in 2007. Their job is to align and/or facilitate compromises between the ministers from each EU country as they meet to adopt laws and coordinate policies.
Today Prime Minister António Costa is presenting the priorities for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the plenary session of the European Parliament in Brussels.
According to 2021portugal.eu, “The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union has set out to provide positive and flexible action that can build bridges.” Namely, they will be focusing a lot of time and energy on pressing environmental and social challenges, the most important of which will be climate change, and making the economy of the European Union more sustainable,” the site outlines. These goals are aligned with the Portuguese national goals in the areas of sustainability, more specifically, renewable and efficient energy and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This focus will be “in line with the vision and strategy defined in the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement, while also bearing in mind the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” according to the site.
For the Portuguese Presidency, “it will be very important to strengthen Europe's resilience and its citizens' confidence in the European social model, promoting a Union based on shared values of solidarity, convergence, and cohesion – a Union capable of coordinated action to recover from the crisis.” Namely, the goals will be to make distinct climate and digital transitions to help Europe recover from the economic downturn while simultaneously strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy.
According to 2021Portugal.eu, the first orders of business are to “start execution of the new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the EU Next Generation Instrument (Next Generation EU) and the respective Recovery and Resilience Facility, in order to recover from the crisis and lay the foundations for sustainable growth and job creation.”
Notably, the council intends to “give priority to a comprehensive, balanced and fair future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom, respecting the interests of the Union and the Member States.”
There is room for growth toward European leadership in digital innovation and the digital economy, and the council hopes to be a driving force behind that growth. Action will be taken to reduce the EU's dependency on imports in the areas of goods and critical technologies. There will be significant investments made in innovations in these areas as the council diversifies supply chains toward European producers, and to modernizing public administration techniques, in particular through the use of artificial intelligence. Looking outwardly, the council intends to consolidate an open, rules-based system of international trade while promoting a strong and fair trade agenda.
Those in the tourism and creative industries can also expect attention from the EU council under the Portuguese President, as these two industries have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.
In terms of in-kind sponsorship, three contracts have been signed by the President to meet the needs of its ongoing events. Delta Cafés, SUMOL+COMPAL, and The Navigator Company have been given this honor.
As a follow-up to the IPBN’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Sustainability Conference in Lisbon, the Algarve committee of the Ireland Portugal Business Network (IPBN), like Politico and many others, has decided to focus on Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15) – Life on Land.
Following the IPBN’s Blue Economy Conference in Sep 2021, there have been many milestone achievements worth mentioning. However, steps in the right direction need to be made more quickly and more often as alarming climate disasters continue to ravage the planet.