Europe’s post-pandemic economic recovery will only succeed if it is “fair and inclusive”, said Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
He made the remarks on Friday as he opened the Porto Social Summit, an event hosted by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), reports Xinhua news agency.
Prime Minister Costa, who chairs the Council of the EU, said that “the time has come to rapidly launch economic and social recovery based on the engines of climate and digital transitions in a sustainable way”.
These transitions “generate opportunities, but they also generate great anguish and much anxiety for millions of workers, as well as fears for small and medium-sized companies that fear losing competitiveness with the new environmental demands”.
“The EU must not forget the flip side of these transitions, the need for a strong social pillar to combat inequality, to create new jobs, to ensure requalification and social protection,” Costa said.
He also stated that the European Commission’s plans “are not only a response to the current situation, but above all, they are an instrument for the future”.
According to the Prime Minister, the Covid-19 pandemic has “revealed the importance of a strong social state,” in addition to “multiple weaknesses that still exist in our societies”.
“A precarious society is not a resilient society. Recovery cannot just meet the present emergency and the time has come to combine emergency with recovery,” he concluded.
Echoing Costa’s message, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised that Europe is “stronger when it is united by social programs”.
“Together we are stronger, together we can make our social rules work for all Europeans. Together we can deliver on Europe’s promise,” she said.
According to von der Leyen, the objective of the summit is “to build a social Europe that is capable of realizing our ambitions”.
Thanking Costa for hosting the Social Summit, von der Leyen said that “the pandemic uncertainty is not over yet and recovery is still at an early stage”.
“Thanks to our single market social economy, we can give people certainty, who now more than ever need tangible and positive changes.”
The two-day summit is attended by President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, the European Council President Charles Michel, the Commission’s Executive Vice Presidents Margrethe Vestager and Valdis Dombrovskis, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, as well as 24 European heads of state and government and other political and institutional leaders, social partners and civil society.
Topping the agenda is the action plan presented by the Commission in March, which sets out three major goals for 2030: have at least 78 per cent of the European population in employment; ensure that at least 60 per cent of adults participate in trainings; and lift 15 million people out of poverty and social exclusion.