Portugal takes on EU Council Presidency

On 1 January 2021, Portugal took over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The Presidency rotates every 6 months and will be held by Portugal in the first half of 2021. To ensure coherency, three Presidencies are grouped together with Portugal sharing the Trio-Presidency with Germany (2nd half 2020) and Slovenia (2nd half 2021).

The common focus of the Trio Programme is the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, under the motto “Time to deliver: a fair, green and digital recovery”, the Portuguese Presidency will focus on three main priorities:

  • The implementation of the €750 billion COVID recovery plan which should aim for an economic and social recovery driven by the green and digital transitions.
  • The development of the Social Pillar of the EU aimed at promoting trust and inclusion, thus enabling the European social model to keep pace with climate, digital and demographic change.
  • Strengthening the strategic autonomy of the EU in the framework of the new industrial strategy with a focus on European value chains, SMEs, R&I, and economic openness based on EU values.

Among some of the key initiatives in the digital sphere, the Portuguese Presidency aims to carry on the work initiated by the Commission in 2020 with the EU Data Strategy by promoting better access to and sharing of quality data and information through the creation of a European digital identity. In June 2021, Portugal is also expected to host the so-called Digital Assembly where it will present a “Declaration on Digital Democracy with a Purpose”: a Declaration of digital rights which should set the framework for a digital transition based on European values.

In parallel, Portugal will also take forward negotiations on important legislative initiatives. This includes the legislative packages on (i) the Digital Services Act (DSA) and (ii) the Digital Markets Act (DMA) which aim to reform the governance of digital markets in the EU, as well as (iii) the upcoming legislative proposal on Artificial Intelligence expected in the first quarter of 2021. The Portuguese Presidency also intends to pursue discussions within the Council concerning the proposed ePrivacy Regulation and it has already put forward an amended version of the text which is in the process of being discussed in the Working Party on Telecommunications & Information Society (WP TELE). For all these legislative files, the Council is expected to agree on its own position before starting negotiations with the European Parliament and Commission.