Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal


The Portuguese EU presidency "is very committed, very European and has a strong political will to fix the social dimension in European policies," said the European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit.

European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit considers it “great luck” to have Portugal preside over the Council of the European Union (EU) this semester, at a time when Brussels is trying to strengthen the social dimension after the Covid-19 crisis.


“I must say that – and it is not because I am good friends with many Portuguese officials – it is great luck to have a presidency such as the Portuguese one,” says Mr Schmit, responsible for the Employment and Social Rights portfolios in the EU executive in an interview with Lusa.


In this interview regarding the new action plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, released today, Schmit notes that the Portuguese presidency of the EU “is very committed, very European and has a strong political will to fix the social dimension in European policies”.


In its action plan on the Pillar of Social Rights, the European Commission today proposed to lift 15 million citizens out of poverty by 2030, while also aiming to “drastically reduce” the number of homeless people on the EU’s streets.


The proposal also includes targets of having at least 78% of the EU population in employment by 2030 (an increase on the previous target of 75%) and that at least 60% of workers should receive training each year.


Young people are also covered in the strategy through measures to increase their skills, such as digital skills.


Workers through platforms (such as Glovo couriers or Uber drivers) are considered in the action plan through the improvement of working conditions, and by the end of the year and after two consultations with social partners, the European Commission will present a proposal directed to these professionals.


One of the major priorities of the Portuguese presidency in this first semester is the social agenda, and the approval of this Action Plan of the European Pillar of Social Rights is foreseen in the social summit scheduled for 7 and 8 May in Porto.


The aim is to approve a programme with concrete measures to implement the European Social Pillar, a non-binding text of 20 principles to promote social rights in Europe approved in Gothenburg (Sweden) in November 2017.


The text advocates for a fairer and more effective functioning of labour markets and social protection systems, notably on equal opportunities, labour market access, social protection, healthcare, lifelong learning, work-life balance and equal pay for men and women.


After the presentation of today’s proposal, it will be up to the Portuguese presidency to lead the debate and negotiate a compromise among the 27 that will allow an agreement to be ‘sealed’ in May.