LISBON — Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Wednesday that his country will continue the “excellent work” of the German presidency of the European Union (EU).
On Jan. 1, 2021, Portugal is scheduled to assume the six-month rotating Presidency of the the EU Council for the fourth time. In a video message published on social networks, Costa congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel “on the excellent work at the helm of the European Union,” highlighting “the joint purchase of vaccines and simultaneous distribution to all member states,” and the “approval of a robust response to the economic and social effects of the pandemic.”
According to Costa, the advances “demonstrate a European Union close to its citizens, responding to their fears and meeting their expectations.”
“It is an honor and a huge responsibility for Portugal to receive this testimony from your hands and continue your work,” he said. Costa said that the Portuguese EU Council Presidency will have “three main priorities.”
The first is “economic and social recovery, which will be driven by climate and digital transitions, factors of growth and the creation of more and better jobs.”
The second is “the development of the European Union’s social pillar, creating a solid foundation of confidence that this double transition will be an opportunity for everyone and a guarantee that no one will be left behind.” Thirdly, said Costa, Portugal is committed to strengthening the “strategic autonomy of a European Union open to the world.”
“It is now up to us to continue your work, with the motto of the Portuguese Presidency: it is time to act, for a fair, green and digital recovery,” he concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, Merkel wished the Portuguese prime minister “much success,” stressing that Germany “will do everything within its power” to support Portugal. Merkel said that for Germany “the central challenge was undoubtedly the coronavirus pandemic,” reiterating the importance of the unity of the 27 member states in confronting this challenge.
“I am convinced that together we will be stronger than the virus. This is what we are seeing these days: together Europe is promoting, purchasing and distributing vaccines,” she said, thanking the European Commission for its work and for ensuring that the EU is committed to making vaccines available in all countries, “because the pandemic knows no borders.”