Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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Governance and citizenship

Portuguese Presidency - 05.01.2021

Starting the year with a bang: the EU issues to watch out for in the first half of 2021
Portugal is taking up the rotating Presidency of European Union a time of extraordinary activity in European affairs. The last time the southern European nation held the Presidency way back in 2007, the year of the signing of the Lisbon Treaty. Needless to say, a great deal has happened since then, notably with the consolidation of the EU’s regulatory powers and the creation of initiatives in ever-more areas such as migration, environment and healthcare.

During the first half of this year, Portugal will preside over the launch of the EU’s new seven-year financial framework, at a time when political leaders are under more pressure than ever to deliver on health, the economy and the environment. In these challenging times, Europe’s municipalities and regions are ready to partner with the new Presidency to deliver a brighter future for our citizens.

The case for partnership has never been stronger. Local and regional governments have an essential role to play to develop policies suited to the conditions of each territory, as close as possible to the citizens. Fulfilling EU objectives, notably the Sustainable Development Goals, can only be achieved through strengthened partnerships with municipalities, regions and their representative associations.

The current trio of presidencies made up of Germany (July to December 2020), Portugal and Slovenia (July to December 2021) is tackling a wide range of issues including the rule of law, digitalisation and the climate and energy transition. The Portuguese Presidency’s five main pillars include the following initiatives which CEMR and its members will follow closely:
 
  • Resilient Europe: the new pact on migration and asylum, especially the qualifications regulation and the better reception conditions directive
  • Social Europe: the implementation of the Action Plan for the European Pillar of Social Rights and the proposal on fair minimum wages for workers in the EU
  • Green Europe: the draft climate law, new legislation on circular economy, the proposal of a framework for achieving climate neutrality, biodiversity and toxic-free environment, and sustainable and smart mobility
  • Digital Europe: the Digital Services Act
  • Global Europe: the Eastern Partnership Summit in March 2021

We will also continue work on gender equality, citizens’ participation and balanced territorial development.

Local and regional governments’ impact in their territories and their involvement at EU level are two sides of the same coin. Both are essential ingredients to achieve the Union’s objectives and to maximise the benefits of European policies in both our municipalities and regions, and in the wider world.
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