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Handshakes all round, as Portugal takes up EU Presidency

brussels bureau

Handshakes all round, as Portugal takes up EU Presidency


Meeting in the northern city of Oporto, prime minister Jose Socrates welcomed the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso as he laid out his ambitious plans. They include reform of European institutions, energy policy and climate change, and a common EU position on migration.

Socrates said: “Our aim is to conclude the intergovernmental conference as soon as possible. I think that is what Europe expects of us, that we work quickly and build on the optimism of last month’s treaty agreement.” EU president Jose Manuel Barroso insisted there was no time for more debate.

He said: “European leaders agreed a new mandate, and now some want to start again? No, that’s unthinkable. I don’t think anyone wants to reopen the debate.” Wednesday sees the first of a string of EU summits, on closer ties with Brazil, and later a possible summit on Africa. It will be a busy six months, but the Portugese prime minister is undaunted. He is a keen marathon runner, which is good, as achieving anything in europe is rarely a sprint.

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