Bilateral consultations with Portugal at the level of EU directors-general
Today, the Director-General for EU Affairs, Barbara Sušnik, held bilateral consultations with the Director-General for EU Affairs at the Portuguese Foreign Ministry, Rui Vinhas. Due to the current situation related to the pandemic, consultations were held via videoconferencing. The topics of discussion covered bilateral relations, current European issues and preparations for the EU Council presidency. The two countries are participating in the current trio of presidencies together with Germany.
The counterparts expressed their satisfaction with the positive and close cooperation between their two countries, which has been further strengthened in the context of successive EU Council presidencies (Portugal is due to hold the presidency in the first half of 2021 and Slovenia in the second), confirming their interest in continuing the regular exchange of high-level visits as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.
They went on to exchange information on the current epidemiological situation in both countries and the measures taken to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Slovenia and Portugal are in firm agreement on the need to maintain close coordination at the EU level. Views were also exchanged on current European themes, such as the conference on the future of Europe, efforts to reach an agreement regarding the draft new Pact on Asylum and Migration, the state of play in the rule of law in the EU and its member states, and the state of play in negotiations on the EU-UK future relationship.
The Portuguese side presented its presidency priorities, which include: further action to combat the pandemic, especially in the economy; strengthening health care and Europe’s social dimension; combating climate change; and strengthening digital Europe. Regarding EU external relations, Portugal will pay particular attention to cooperation with Africa and Latin America.
Directors-general Sušnik and Vinhas agreed that the current crisis has a significant impact on the preparations for the presidency and on its implementation, which has presented an additional challenge for both countries. The Portuguese side also outlined its own experience of preparing for the presidency, which is scheduled to start in less than two months. It also presented an overview of the coordination of European affairs during the presidency.