EU/Presidency: Portugal must put Africa at the centre of European attention
Portugal must take advantage of the authority of the presidency of the Council of the European Union to put the African continent at the centre of the Community bloc’s attention, Ambassador Francisco Seixas da Costa said on Thursday at a digital conference.
Seixas da Costa spoke at a video conference on the priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), in which he criticised the “erasure” of the EU bloc concerning “external solidarity”.
“The European Union has been very self-absorbed, perhaps because of its own crises, and has looked at its traditional action of external solidarity in a way that is not at the level that a moral entity like the European Union should have”, he pointed out.
In this regard, Seixas da Costa, the secretary of state for European affairs in the first government led by António Guterres, warned of the “challenging situation” in Africa concerning the Covid-19 pandemic, calling for a clear position from the Portuguese presidency on this matter.
“A country like Portugal, which has a systematic attention to Africa and has held the two Euro-African summits [under previous presidencies], will most likely have some authority to be able to raise the need for the EU not to close its eyes to the tough situation facing African countries in the European Council, given the face of the pandemic and its effects,” he said.
He said “there is an executive vice-president of the European Commission who heads the European External Action Service”, referring to the high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy, a post which came about under the Lisbon Treaty, in force since 2009.
However, this post does not prevent countries holding the presidency from being “indifferent” in the field of external aid, Seixas da Costa said.
“It is not by chance that we have managed to put the issue of India [on the European agenda], which is bilaterally important for us, but also crucial for Europe and the balance of international relations, particularly with China”, he added.
Tiago Moreira de Sá, secretary for international relations of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), also attended this videoconference and stressed the importance of the European Union’s closer relationship with Africa, and called for the summit between the two continents to be held during the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU.
“It is important that the EU-Africa summit takes place during the Portuguese presidency, in whatever form, either here [Portugal] or in Brussels. He added that the EU-Africa summit is a “distinctive mark” of Portugal.
During this digital conference, organised by the European University within the Privacy and Data Protection Centre framework, in collaboration with the European Movement, the closer relations of the European Union with the United States and the United Kingdom were also on the table.
Besides Francisco Seixas da Costa and Tiago Moreira de Sá, the webinar “Challenges for the European Union and the Portuguese Presidency”, organised by the European University, within the framework of the Privacy and Data Protection Centre, in collaboration with the European Movement, was attended by José Conde Rodrigues, President of European Movement Portugal, José Luís Carneiro, assistant secretary-general of the PS, Cristina Caldeira, coordinator of the Privacy and Data Protection Centre of the European University and vice-president of the European Movement Portugal, and Alexandre Sousa Rodrigues, coordinator of the same Centre, who took on the role of the moderator of the debate.