Portugal pushes for EU meeting with Biden before July

Portugal’s EU Presidency is working to have a meeting with the US President during the first half of the year, the secretary of state for European affairs has said.

“We are working hard with the European External Action Service [EEAS] to see if we can hold a meeting with President Biden during our six-month term,” Ana Paula Zacarias said.

At the time of Joe Biden’s election as president of the United States last November, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, invited Biden to a meeting with the 27 EU member states in Brussels.

According to Zacarias, this meeting “has not yet been ruled out”, and the presidency of the EU Council is doing everything in its power to ensure that this meeting takes place during the Portuguese semester.

“There may be a meeting, especially if we can articulate it with a NATO summit,” she said, adding that the heads of state and government had a meeting with NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg last Friday to explore how such an event could be organised.

The Conference on the Future of Europe

At the same time, Zacarias said Lisbon was working hard to make the conference on the Future of Europe happen, stressing that in the coming weeks, the EU would have “good news” in this regard.

“We hope that on 9 May the conference will be on and citizens can talk about Europe on Europe Day,” she said.

Zacarias said the EU’s goal for the conference was to meet citizens who normally do not participate in these events – such as mayors, national parliaments, youth associations, senior universities.

The conference on the future of Europe was supposed to take place in May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There were also diverging views among the European institutions on who should chair the forum.

On February 3, the Portuguese presidency of the EU saw its proposal approved by the ambassadors of the 27 member states in Brussels regarding the authority of this conference.

It will be chaired by the presidents of the EU’s three main institutions (the Council of the EU, the European Commission and European Parliament), with the assistance of an executive committee composed of nine people (three per institution) – but the agreement of the European Parliament is still needed.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]


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