Lisbon, Portugal, March 2020 – Portugal has taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 January until 30 June at a time of unprecedented crisis, with Member States still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is the fourth time Portugal assumes this role, following 1992, 2000 and 2007. The current Trio Presidency gathers, besides Portugal, Germany (1 July-31 December 2020) and Slovenia (1 July-31 December 2021).
‘A fair, green and digital recovery’
Under the motto ‘A fair, green and digital recovery’, the Portuguese presidency has five priorities:
- Resilient Europe – Promoting recovery, cohesion and European values
- Green Europe – Promoting the EU as a leader in climate action
- Digital Europe – Accelerating the digital transformation for citizens and businesses
- Social Europe – Enhancing and strengthening the European social model
- Global Europe – Promoting a Europe that is open to the world
Strengthening social cohesion
In particular, in light of the impact of the Covid crisis on social cohesion, Portugal will seek 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’.
Synergies with the prevention work carried out by Portuguese Efus members
Some of the lines of action proposed by Portugal chime with the prevention work carried out by Efus members, notably those in Portugal. These include:
- Combatting all forms of discrimination and countering terrorism and hate speech, including online.
- Strengthening the EU’s crisis management system to achieve greater resilience and coordination in our response to disasters and to protect critical infrastructures.
- Continue the negotiation of the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, in order to promote sustainable channels for legal migration and integration of migrants, geared to safeguarding human rights.
- Promote improved access to and sharing of quality data and information, in order to facilitate the lives of citizens, and also work for technology at the service of people in full respect for the values of a democratic, open and sustainable society.
- Pay attention to gender equality and policies for combating discrimination, poverty and social exclusion, including specific protection for more vulnerable groups.
Other aspects of the presidency programme are particularly interesting for Efus and its members, notably its priorities concerning Justice and home affairs.
The fight against cyber-threats is a top priority: ‘Due to new criminal phenomena, notably in cyberspace, and the impact of COVID-19, we need to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement authorities and judicial systems to identify threats and mitigate their effects, especially on the most vulnerable. In this context, the Presidency will […] give priority to the development of the new internal security strategy for the EU, based on prevention and the protection of citizens and their rights, freedoms and guarantees’.
From organised crime to community policing…
Another priority is the fight against organised crime and other types of transnational crimes: ‘Given the complexity of the security and justice challenges posed by transnational crime, important areas will be prevention, training, joint risk analysis and information exchange, as well as enhanced cooperation between Member States and European agencies and with third countries’.
A third priority is counter-terrorism and more broadly countering radicalisation: ‘Particular attention will be paid to radicalisation and violent extremism of various origins and orientations, including online activities. In this way, we will create incentives and conditions for the coordinated involvement of all actors responsible for preventing and combating the terrorist threat’.
The Presidency also emphasizes the importance of other areas on which Efus has long been working, i.e. community policing, the protection of public spaces, and the prevention of violence in sport.
… and drugs
Lastly, an important priority area is drugs. Portugal now chairs the Council’s Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG), with six meetings scheduled with the EU Member States and additional dialogues on drugs with relevant international partners (including Brazil, China and the United States). Continuing the work of the outgoing German Presidency, and based on the new EU drugs strategy for 2021–25, Portugal will have as one of its main objectives the preparation of the next action plan on drugs, based on information that is scientific, evidence-based and measurable. Portugal will also lead the EU and its Member States at the 64th session of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (Vienna, 12–16 April 2021).