The year 2020 was anything but normal. The pandemic is a phenomenon the likes of which we never lived through. It could have broken us but it did not. Furthermore, with the approval of vaccines and their roll-out underway, there is new-found confidence in what the future holds.
Despite unpleasant numbers of COVID-19 cases in many member states, I could sense this growing positive sentiment among peers in the EU’s General Affairs Council. The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU promises to build on this sentiment to help the Union refresh, restarting on a more positive cycle with a proactive approach.
I welcome proactivity in the determination to focus on social affairs. Considering the pandemic’s impact on the employment market, in some sectors more than others, focusing on workers and their social protection is warranted at this stage. From fighting the many shades of discrimination and addressing issues arising from modern ways of work, to making sure work pays decently, these six months will prove to be determining in laying the groundwork and delivering.
Resources must be made available, especially through European funds, to support new skills acquisition among the workforce. There is no point in pushing a digital agenda in a soulless manner. A transition that leaves anyone behind will not represent our shared values. In digitalisation, however, lies the potential for economic recovery.
Resilience emerged as a major theme in recent months. It gives me great optimism to note the readiness of the new presidency to support a European Health Union. The darkest part of 2020 was by far those days which saw member states competing and refusing to trade essential medical equipment with each other, while tens of thousands were dying. That is not the Europ ..