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On July 1st, Portugal took over the Presidency of the European Council from Germany, for a six-month period. The Portuguese Prime Minister and President of the European Council, José S?crates, recently presented the Portuguese Priorities to the European Parliament. Portugal’s main task – a Herculean one – will be to break the deadlock over the institutional reform of the Union, and prepare a new Union Treaty (no longer to be called ‘Constitution’) and, in this context, stage an Intergovermental Conference (IGC). Another focal issue will be the development of a European maritime policy. Portugal also wants the EU to enter into a dialogue with countries and regions to which it enjoys privileged (historical) links, such as Brazil, Africa and the countries around the Mediterranean basin. According to the Portuguese Government, all priorities presented are in line with the 18-month programme drawn up with the preceding German and the ensuing Slovenian Presidency.
The Portuguese Priorities are not overly explicit on education, training, research and innovation. In the context of the Lisbon Strategy, Portugal wants to strengthen what it calls the “triangle of knowledge” – innovation, research and education – in order to master the challenges of globalisation. In the context of the Action Plan on Innovation, it intends to promote a debate on the future policy on research and technology in Europe. There is also talk of a “vision” including the modernisation of higher education and lifelong learning. Finally, it promises to attempt to ensure that the final decision on a regulation for the European Institute of Technology is taken “as soon as possible."Press release