The Portuguese Presidency: In Brief


The Portuguese Presidency, which took over at the EU’s helm on 1 July 2007, will focus on concluding talks on an EU Reform Treaty, as well as the foreign policy agenda, with a particular focus on relations with Africa and Brazil.

From 1 July to 31 December 2007, Portugal will organise and chair the European Council meetings. The motto of the Portuguese Presidency is: "A Stronger Union for a Better World".

For further information on the Portuguese Presidency's agenda, see the Portuguese Presidency priorities, the official EU Presidency calendar, and the Council's 18-month programme for the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies.

Reform Treaty

At the June 2007 Summit, the German Presidency reached agreement among EU leaders for a detailed IGC mandate to reform the EU's institutions. The Portuguese Presidency is committed to opening the IGC on 23-24 July and finalise the technical details of the political agreement at an informal Summit in Lisbon on 18-19 October. However, Portugal's hopes of keeping further political discussions out of the IGC may be dashed by Poland. Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski is already questioning parts of the agreement on the voting rights system, one of the main sticking points during the June Council.

Related dossiers:

Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs

Seven years after the launch of the Lisbon Strategy, much remains to be done to achieve its aims of making the EU the most competitive, knowledge-based economy in the world. Ahead of the next cycle to be launched in 2008, the Portuguese Presidency will assess the second round of National Reform Programmes, which will be submitted by member states in Autumn.

The aim of the Portuguese Presidency is to make the EU ready to face the challenge of global competition without losing ground - therefore, special emphasis will be placed on the social and employment aspects of the Lisbon Agenda. The preparations for the revision of the Lisbon Strategy, due to start at the 2008 Spring Council, will be at the forefront.

The Sustainable Development Strategy, initiatives on SMEs and the European social model including general principles on flexicurity are also among the priorities in this context. The Commission is due to present its report on the internal market review at the end of October, with EU leaders due to discuss the results at the December Summit.

Related dossiers:

Security, Freedom and Justice

Adapting to new security threats after 9/11, the enlargement of the Schengen borderless travel agreement to new member states and migration policy are among the priorities for the second half of 2007.

The Portuguese presidency seeks to connect the issue of illegal immigration to legal migration based on four pillars:

  • A "realistic approach" to legal migration, with an emphasis on a less restrictive economic migration;
  • social inclusion policies, addressing working cultures and conditions;
  • an effective border policy, to help control the influx of legal and illegal immigrants, and;
  • development policy, especially co-operation with African countries, which make up the bulk of economic migration to Europe.

A special meeting of EuroMed ministers concerning migration will take place on 18-19 November in Algarve.

External Relations

The Portuguese Presidency is seeking to strengthen the EU's role on the international stage. While the German Presidency focused on relations with the EU's eastern neighbouring countries, Portugal will be looking towards the south, especially Euro-Mediterranean relations. Portugal has announced that it wants the EU to take leadership on the issues of climate change, energy policy, non-proliferation, poverty reduction, development aid, and conflict reduction under its Presidency.

There will also be a number of bilateral EU Summits and a special focus on transatlantic relations. The EU-Africa Summit will focus on the issues of migration, but also energy. The bilateral Summit with Brazil is also expected to focus on the issue of energy too, especially biofuels, in which the country is world leader, with 44% of its total energy production coming from renewable sources.

Related dossiers:

Amnesty International has raised concerns over the EU's ambivalence when it comes to dealing with its own human-rights problems, especially in view of the latest Council of Europe report confirming that the CIA operated secret detention sites in several EU member states. Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty International's EU Office said: "The EU can set a powerful example to the rest of the world and it can overcome its ambivalence. Portugal could show the leadership that the EU has so far been lacking."

President of the European Movement Pat Cox said: "We know that the purely legalistic and technical sessions of lawyers, do not necessarily need to be monitored by the public. But the most political debates during the IGC, where crucial decisions are taken, need public scrutiny." He added: "It would be a good start for the Portuguese Presidency and would add legitimacy to the process that, compared to the European Convention, loses on the involvement of parliaments, civil society and openness."

European chambers of commerce and industry association Eurochambres has called on the Portuguese Presidency to move on with the revised Treaty and move ahead on innovation. Eurochambres President Pierre Simon said: "It is a key moment to reinforce the economy, and every effort has to be made in order to effectively exploit the current window of opportunity."

The European Environmental Bureau's (EEB) Secretary-General John Hontelez said: "The Portuguese Presidency is prioritising some important issues, such as biodiversity, water scarcity, and the marine environment. EEB supports these priorities, but we want to see tangible results which have an impact well beyond this six-month Presidency."

  • 28 June: Portuguese State Secretary for European Affairs Manuel Lobo Antunes presents the priorities for his presidency at the Parliament in Brussels.
  • 1 July: Portugal takes over EU Presidency.
  • 4 JulyEU-Brazil Summit in Lisbon.
  • 23-24 July: Portuguese Presidency opens Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) with the task of drafting the EU Reform Treaty.
  • 18-19 Oct.: Informal meeting of heads of state and government due to finalise IGC talks (Lisbon).
  • 26 Oct.EU-Russia Summit in Mafra.
  • 18-19 Nov.: EuroMed ministerial meeting on Migration (Algarve).
  • 28 Nov.EU-China Summit (China).
  • 30 Nov.EU-India Summit (India).
  • 8-9 Dec.EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon.
  • 13-14 Dec.: European Council in Brussels.

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