On 1 January 2021, Portugal took over the presidency of the Council of the EU, with the motto "Time to deliver: a fair, green and digital recovery".

The Portuguese presidency will face the challenging task of transferring from paper to real life the deals clinched in the last stretch of the German presidency on the EU's multiannual budget (MFF) and Recovery Fund, implementing the post-Brexit agreement with the UK and overseeing Europe's vaccination against COVID-19.

This presidency has five clear objectives for the next six months:

  • to get the MFF up and running, adopting the necessary regulations and launching the programmes associated with it.
  • to get the Resilience and Recovery Fund to countries as quickly as possible, thus accelerating the green and digital transitions.
  • to successfully implement the vaccination plan for Europe and help make it a reality in the rest of the world, too.
  • to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and give it a vital boost during the Social Summit scheduled for 7-8 May in Porto.
  • to strengthen the EU's relations with key strategic partners such as India and Africa and get relations with the US back on track. 

The EESC will contribute to the work of the Portuguese presidency to ensure that the voice of Europe's civil society is heard. In particular, the EESC will share the views of civil society on the following topics, through opinions it is preparing at the presidency's request:

  • The challenges of teleworking: organisation of working time, work-life balance and the right to disconnect
  • Vocational training: the effectiveness of systems in anticipating and matching skills and labour market needs and the role of the social partners and different stakeholders
  • The role of the social economy in job creation and in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights
  • Teleworking and gender equality – establish conditions ensuring that teleworking does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work between women and men and that it becomes an engine for promoting gender equality
  • The Single European Railway Area
  • How to promote the skills needed for Europe to establish a more just, cohesive, sustainable, digital and resilient society through lifelong learning and training.

Portugal will hold the six-monthly rotating presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 January to 30 June. It will be followed by Slovenia, which in the second half of 2021 will close the trio initiated by Germany.

This will be the fourth Portuguese presidency since the country's accession to the EU in 1986. (mr)