“Thank you, António, for an incredibly successful presidency”

Ursula von der Leyen marked the final meeting of the Council of the Europe under Portugal’s presidency of the Council of the European Union by thanking Portugal’s prime minister António Costa for what she called an ‘incredibly successful’ six month stint.

Citing the launch of the Covid Digital Certificate, Mrs von der Leyen’s focus was on the “skill” with which Mr Costa had “handled the whole process”.

She went into a number of topics “which would not have been so successful” without Mr Costa and the Portuguese presidency – but the Covid Digital Certificate seems to have been the toughest achievement managed “in record time”, to be adopted by 26 Member States which are ready to put it into operation on July 1.

Referring to the approval of funding for “Next Generation EU” – the bazooka and all it entails – Mrs von der Leyen said decisions had been made in five months “when normally they would have taken at least two years”.

Leader of the European Council Charles Michael also praised the “excellent work” of the Portuguese presidency, highlighting what he described as Mr Costa’s “collaboration”.

Again it was pointed out that Portugal didn’t assume its role of the rotating presidency at an easy time, bearing in mind the demands of the pandemic and the fact that so many meetings had to take place remotely.

Portugal’s six months in the driving seat of European business officially comes to an end next Wednesday, when responsibility for the presidency moves to Slovenia.

Mr Costa has listed what he believes were the highlights in a series of tweets today.

It’s time to deliver and we delivered. In these six months of @2021PortugalEU, ending on 30 June, we moved forward towards a fair, green and digital recovery.

At the @EUCouncil, which ended today in Brussels, I took stock of our Presidency.

“These were six months of intense work to speed up vaccination and recovery. We held the Social Summit in #Porto, where we reached the most ambitious tripartite agreement at European level on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

“With the Summit with #India, we contributed to strengthening the autonomy of an #EU open to the world.

We also launched the Conference on the Future of #Europe to openly debate what Europe we want to build for the future”.