Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia are to hold the presidency of the European Council in succession starting from July 1, 2020, through to December 31, 2021. The three countries will have a joint programme.
Germany’s presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2020 will focus on concluding agreements on the bloc’s multi-annual budget and its future relationship with the UK, with implementation of these crucial agreements taking place in early 2021 under Portugal’s leadership, the latter’s foreign minister said.
Portugal’s Augusto Santos Silva made the comments to journalists after a meeting this week by videoconference with Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the prime ministers of Portugal and Slovenia, António Costa and Janez Jansa.
“The main priority of the German EU presidency”, which “is an immediate priority”, Santos Silva said, is “in July 2020 to seek to close the agreement on the new Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU budget for the next seven years, and also on the New Generation programme, that is the EU economic recovery plan.”
As a result, Portugal, whose EU stint runs from January 1 to June 30 2021, “will have the absolutely essential task of starting its implementation, of ensuring that the resources of the multiannual budget and the resources of the recovery plan are effectively on the ground from next January,” Santos Silva stressed.
The same applies if the German presidency succeeds in what is its “second major priority”, namely “seeking agreement on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom,” following the latter’s departure from the EU, which formally took place on 31 January 2020 but with a transitional period that runs until the end of 2020.
“We will have until the end of December 2020 to negotiate an agreement with the United Kingdom that allows there to be no break in the economic relationship, but also in other areas between the two entities, from January 2021,” said Santos Silva. “And, of course, if the German presidency also concludes, as we wish and hope, the agreement on the future relationship with the United Kingdom, it will be up to the Portuguese presidency to mark its signature and execution.”
EU leaders are currently discussing a proposal presented by the European Commission at the end of May for an EU budget covering the next seven years and, linked to that, an economic recovery fund to alleviate the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
After an informal EU Council meeting last Friday, also by videoconference, that ended without agreement, the European Council president, Charles Michel, announced earlier this week that the heads of state and government are to meet again at a summit, this time face to face, on July 17 and 18 in Brussels.