Vaccination, economic recovery top priorities of Portugal's EU presidency: PM

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BRUSSELS, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 vaccination campaign and economic and social recovery are the top priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), European parliamentarians were told on Wednesday.

Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa told MEPs here during a plenary session that other challenges, such as climate change and social issues, will also be high on the agenda during the presidency in the first half of 2021.

Under the motto "Time to Deliver", the Portuguese presidency will focus on adopting the European Climate Law, advancing on the Digital Services Act package, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights, and strengthening international partnerships.

Portugal will also host an EU-India Summit in May in Porto -- the second-largest city in Portugal -- on digital issues, trade, investment, pharmaceutical products, science and space, Costa said.

EU executive chief Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the focus on social issues and said the European Commission will update its industrial strategy to help create quality jobs in the post-pandemic world. "The green, digital and fair recovery must be a jobs recovery," she stressed.

Noting that the recovery depended on overcoming the pandemic, she called for a faster roll-out of vaccination across Europe.

"This is a race against time! We have made progress at unprecedented speed. Work on developing vaccines, which would normally take 10 years, has been completed in 10 months," she said. "We must speed up our vaccination effort. The speed at which the countries of Europe are vaccinating their people continues to vary too much." Enditem

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