Portuguese foreign minister outlines presidency priorities

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The Portuguese presidency will mainly focus on the political agenda and attempting to resolve the institutional impasse, as well as the external agenda, promoting competitiveness, security and improving relations with third countries.

Speaking at a Friends of Europe debate in Brussels on 15 May 2007, Portuguese Foreign Minister Luís Amado set out the challenges ahead of his country’s six-month EU Presidency from 1 July 2007.

The four main items on the agenda are:

  • A new Treaty: Stepping up efforts to solve the political impasse by 2009.
  • Lisbon Agenda: Facing the challenge of global competition without losing ground.
  • Security, Freedom and Justice: Adapting to new security threats after 9/11.
  • External Relations: Strengthening the EU’s role on the international stage.

With view to the road map, which the German Presidency is to set out at the European Summit on 21-22 June, Amado urged: “This is a critical moment of negotiations. We need a new Treaty and we need it fast.”

He added that the Constitutional Treaty should serve as a basis for institutional reform, but also added that “it would be a mistake to ignore the political reality” that the Constitution was rejected by France and the Netherlands in 2005.

“The pressure from the external agenda is high,” the foreign minister said. His presidency will also focus especially on EU-US relations, neighbourhood policy and third country relations. Amado stated that it was “time to renew transatlantic relations”.

With the German Presidency having put their emphasis on the EU’s neighbours on the eastern borders, the Portuguese will focus on Euro-Mediterranean relations, the foreign minister explained. These efforts are bound to be backed by newly elected French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who put forward a proposal for a “Mediterranean Union”, a strategic economic bloc that brings together European, Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Finally, Amado said the EU “needs to assume leadership in global issues”, such as climate change and energy, but also disarmament and non-proliferation and poverty reduction. The Portuguese Presidency seeks to engage in a strategic dialogue with the major powers, with summits planned with Russia, China, India, Brazil, Ukraine and the African Union.

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