As a new year begins, it is time for a new EU Member State to chair the Council of the European Union. This time, Portugal is taking over the EU Council Presidency for the next six months, from January to June 2021. Portugal follows Germany which ensured this role at a very crucial moment for the EU and managed to find a deal on Brexit and the COVID-19 recovery package. Portugal will hand the Presidency over to Slovenia on 30 June.
In its work programme
, the Portuguese Presidency acknowledged that the sea is “a major source of biodiversity and plays a vital role in sustainable development”
. It committed to “enhance the preservation and sustainable use of ocean and sea resources, in line with the European Green Deal”. EAA fully supports the objectives of the Portuguese Presidency and welcomes the fact that it wishes to encourage a greater involvement of civil society in the management of marine resources.
A key moment of the next six months will be a ministerial conference on integrated maritime policy that will be organised in Lisbon in June. In that regard, the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy is also part of the Presidency’s agenda which mentioned several priorities including ensuring sustainable management of fisheries resources and promoting the improvement of fisheries monitoring and control mechanisms.
Finally, the new Presidency also highlighted the need to promote conservation and restoration of ecosystems and natural habitats, a pledge which resonates with the recent Biodiversity Strategy’s objective to restore at least 25,000 km into free-flowing rivers. Increasing the EU-wide implementation of the Water Framework Directive and improving synergies with other sectoral policies are also two priorities mentioned in the Portuguese Presidency’s Work Programme.
It is worth mentioning that Portugal’s current Maritime Affairs Minister, Ricardo Serrão Santos, is not unknown to EAA. As an MEP between 2014 and 2019, key member of the PECH Committee, he chaired two events of the European Parliament Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment, on marine protected areas
and on the Water Framework Directive
. In 2018, during the debate on the Report on the state of play of recreational fisheries, he underlined that “Recreational fishing is an important activity across the European Union, not only because of the number of people involved or the economic impact, but also in the context of resource management”.