European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on lightning 24-hour visit to Portugal

Starting today and with a jam-packed agenda is the first visit to Portugal of president of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen.

The trip is largely to present the European and Portuguese plans for ‘post-pandemic’ recovery, and to ‘prepare’ the way for Portugal taking over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in January.

But it will also be a moment for Ms Von der Leyen to attend a Council of State (tomorrow), on the invitation of President Marcelo.

In addition she is being given a guided tour of the Instituto Ricardo Jorge – the medical facility on the front line of pandemic combat – as well as of the work ongoing at the Champalimaud Foundation.

Explain reports, Ms Von der Leyen has already praised Portugal for the “courageous and very disciplined manner” in which citizens have faced the pandemic, stressing that as a result Portugal has been “more successful than others” in keeping the bad numbers down.

The EC president has also cited Portugal for being exemplary – not just in the way that neighbours have been sewing masks for each other in various towns and cities, but in the way this country has embraced renewable energies.

In one of her last speeches in Strasbourg before meetings were cancelled because of the virus she said, referring to projects started during the time of now-disgraced former Socialist prime minister José Sócrates: “Portugal began its climatic transition in 2005 and has been investing significantly since then”.

In 2023, the last coal mine will finally be closed; the country already has a ‘surplus’ of renewable energy and is working with the Dutch government on preparing for ‘green hydrogen’.

The question however is how is Portugal to transport its renewable energy through Spain and France to “other countries where this energy is needed”, she conceded – thus this may well be one of the topics that come under discussion.

Ms Von der Leyen’s lightning visit will be through by this time tomorrow.

Updates to come.

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