On January 1, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa, will exchange the German Chancellor Angela Merkel as present president of the EU, in the course of the first half of 2021. Two weeks after the switch, and regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the commerce negotiations with the UK and the covid19 pandemic, claims to really feel relieved after the 2 agreements reached by the Twenty-seven final week – the restoration fund and the discount of CO2 emissions – beneath the baton of a German chancellor. Throughout an interview with EL PERIÓDICO and different European media, he considers that Merkel has been a “nice inspiration” in “essentially the most tough second for the EU since World Struggle II”. Though on his agenda of priorities are the relaunch of the financial system, he growth of the social pillar and the strategic autonomy, doesn’t lose sight of the 2 nice short-term challenges going through the EU: the coronavirus and the Brexi.
Are you in favor of the EU beginning to vaccinate the identical day?
These months we now have achieved one thing vital, which is the power to make joint purchases via the Fee, which ensures all member states entry to vaccines concurrently and beneath the identical situations. Will probably be a protracted course of, as a result of we won’t have all of the portions of vaccines on January 1, which will likely be developed subsequent yr. It’s a good alternative to convey to all European residents the significance of the EU. So I’m shuffling to recommend that if on December 29 the European Medicines Company approves the primary vaccine, as deliberate, that on December 30 (Angela) Merkel and (Ursula) Von der Leyen give the sign to start out distributing within the Twenty-seven member states the primary batch of that vaccine.
Are you aware if it will likely be attainable?
It will be symbolic from the viewpoint of the EU if we may agree on a day that could possibly be the zero second within the begin of vaccination at European stage. It have to be understood that we’ll not have a restoration of the inner market if there isn’t a immunization on a world scale within the EU. It isn’t a race to know who’s first. It’s a joint race to succeed in the end line collectively to make sure the extent of immunization on a European scale.
What’s your evaluation of the negotiations with the UK?
It’s a good signal that the EU and the UK have given one another extra time to proceed working in the direction of a deal. The flexibility that we now have proven to stay collectively and keep away from negotiations on the bilateral stage, with a single negotiation performed by the Fee and (Michel) Barnier, is an asset for the success of the negotiation. The vital factor is to beat the three remaining issues as a result of it is vitally vital that we proceed to be good neighbors and allies in NATO and robust buying and selling companions.
Is not it the time to barter on the highest political stage?
We now have a transparent methodology. We now have a negotiator. This isn’t the time to open new doorways. It’s time to shut this work with a great settlement for each events. The absence of settlement can be very unhealthy for everybody. Initially for neighboring international locations which can be going to endure from main border site visitors jams but additionally for commerce relations. It will not assist if every Head of State and Authorities begins to provide their very own opinion.
Are you optimistic? Till when will or not it’s negotiated, till December 31?
I’m largely lifelike. If there had been no will and no alternative, the UK or the European Union would have closed the door to persevering with the negotiation. We should shut the door as quickly as attainable however we all know the restrict and it’s December 31 at midnight, though I believe it will be higher for all of us if we agreed on it as quickly as attainable.
One of many nice pending reforms inherited from Berlin is the asylum coverage. How do you propose to unblock the state of affairs?
It’s a precedence and we should attain an settlement that respects the spirit of solidarity between all EU international locations and, above all, by no means settle for the concept immigration is a matter for international locations with exterior borders. Many of the emigrants don’t wish to come to work within the international locations of entry however within the international locations of central Europe that provide higher residing situations and alternatives. We don’t wish to depart the duty solely to international locations with exterior borders and we can’t depart all of the duty to the international locations which can be most tasty to immigrants. It’s a joint problem.
How can the EU assist first-entry international locations?
It isn’t sufficient to group folks collectively and put them on a aircraft in Greece and convey them to Portugal, Germany or Sweden. It’s essential to have a customized profile of every refugee. They’re folks with a life expertise or life targets. Solidarity can’t be one thing like a mathematical system. We want one thing extra subtle like an algorithm to introduce the various factors and see which is one of the best vacation spot to realize success in integrating each.
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Is the Convention on the Way forward for Europe amongst your priorities?
If the German presidency fails to maneuver ahead, we must relaunch the convention in early January. Europe wants a debate not about treaties however about what we would like from Europe sooner or later. It isn’t helpful for one or the opposite to fake that there aren’t any variations. They exist and are regular. And the easiest way to take care of this divergence is to talk clearly, up entrance and overtly and see how we will all work extra successfully collectively realizing that we now have completely different factors of view. What we now have to keep away from in any respect prices is just not having sufficient flexibility to steer us to a brand new Brexit. We now have all understood that the worth to pay for an exit is just too costly from a political and financial viewpoint to permit us to run the danger of recent crises inside the European Union.