In a videoconference meeting with the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues underlined the “vast legislative and enforcement work” that the European Union (EU) will have in 2021.
Regarding the role of national parliaments in this matter, Ferro Rodrigues stressed that “the most urgent” is the ratification of the decision on the recovery plans of the 27, “essential for the execution of the 'NextGenerationEU' program”, the 750 billion fund euros to face the economic crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
In a meeting that took place within the framework of the traditional visit of the European Commission to the country that hosts the presidency of the EU Council, Ferro Rodrigues praised Von der Leyen's work in “such hard times” and expressed his “appreciation” for the Commission's work ensure coordination of the European response regarding the distribution of vaccines against covid-19, an area “where the Union's competences are limited”.
"We see with great interest the proposals to strengthen European cooperation in the health field", he added, in a reference to the 'EU for Health' program.
In his speech, Ferro Rodrigues also mentioned the need for agreement on the Pact on Migration and Asylum, reiterating the interest of the Assembly of the Republic in Von der Leyen's contribution to “root” the high-level interparliamentary conference on the topic , scheduled for the 'Portuguese semester'.
Regarding the conference on democracy and human rights, the president of the Assembly of the Republic considered it "even more urgent" to reflect and analyze these issues after the "shock" that was the invasion of the Capitol that happened last week in Washington.
To this end, and mentioning cases in northern Europe, in Italy or in France, Ferro Rodrigues hopes that this initiative "will join, if feasible, the European Parliament, the American Congress and the national parliaments of the Member States".
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the visit of the college of commissioners to Lisbon takes place in a reduced format, with the presence of only eight commissioners, and not the entire community executive, and with the program reduced to one day instead of the usual two.
Ursula Von der Leyen is accompanied by the three executive vice-presidents, Frans Timmermans (responsible for the European Ecological Pact portfolio), Valdis Dombrovskis (An Economy at the Service of People) and Margrethe Vestager (Digital), and the vice-president and High Representative EU Foreign Policy Officer Josep Borrell.
The delegation also includes the Portuguese commissioner Elisa Ferreira (Cohesion and Reforms), and the commissioners Nicolas Schmit, who is responsible for Social Affairs, one of the main priorities of the Portuguese presidency, Margaritis Schinas (Promotion of a European Way of Life) and Maros Sefcovic (Interinstitutional and Prospective Relations).
After a joint press conference with the head of the Portuguese executive, the President of the European Commission met, by videoconference, with Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues and also had a meeting with the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
Ursula von der Leyen concludes the program for today's visit to Lisbon with a working dinner with the Prime Minister, António Costa.
Portugal assumed its fourth presidency of the EU Council on January 01st, which will run until June 30th, thus succeeding Germany, which took over the presidency in July 2020, and preceding Slovenia, which takes office in July this year.