Portugal has taken over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union from Berlin - a role that promises to be demanding during months that will likely be dominated by the coronavirus crisis.
With the release of the post-COVID recovery plan and the conclusion of the post-Brexit agreement between the EU and UK, the German presidency ended its stint with several successes leaving Portugal with big shoes to fill on January 1, 2021.
"It is time to take action, to put on the ground the instruments with which we have acquired: the vaccination plan on a European scale and the national recovery plans," Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa told Italian weekly Espresso.
In conjunction with the European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, Lisbon will have to continue to coordinate the health measures of the EU27 nations, which have so far displayed a disjointed chain reaction to each wave of the pandemic.
After the German presidency overcame Poland and Hungary's vetos of the bloc's budget at the last EU summit, the Portuguese will now oversee the implementation of a massive €750 billion COVID recovery plan, financed by an unprecedented common loan.
The presidency must first adapt various national recovery plans which, according to Lisbon, should promote "an economic and social recovery that will be driven by climate and digital transitions".
In the meantime Portugal’s actions lines include the target of the promotion of the process of EU enlargement towards the Western Balkans. Lisbon's EU Presidency Programme says the process of enlargement to the Western Balkans will continue on the basis of a new, more credible and more effective methodology, as well as the stabilization and integration efforts in the region, supporting the European Commission as regards the ongoing reform processes in those countries.
Albania and North Macedonia are in the 'waiting list' of the regional countries to launch the first accession talks with the Union an attempt which Germany failed to accomplish during its presidency over on December 31, 2020. /argumentum.al