European leaders meet today and tomorrow in Porto, Portugal. It must be a “social” summit to resolve issues such as the European minimum wage and poverty reduction.
This is the first EU summit in months, but not all heads of government attended. To Portugal’s disappointment, Prime Minister Rutte and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended the summit digitally.
There are important issues on the agenda of Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa. Portugal was hit hard by the latest financial crisis. In order to claim billions of dollars from the EU, the country had to cut it drastically. After years of austerity policies, the center-left government of Costa Rica took the lead in making the decision to invest funds in more social policies.
The minimum wage has risen sharply, and policies to combat unemployment have been introduced. According to Portugal, the coastal city of Matosinhos is the place where the outskirts of Porto meet European socialists and it is a model of how things should be done.
According to Mayor Luísa Salgueiro, the city has prospered through social policies. She believes that the important thing is that other European countries are now becoming more social. “If we don’t talk about social rights, we can’t talk about our collective progress. We can’t leave anyone behind.”
However, according to economists, there are also reservations about Portuguese policy. Professor Catherine Muri of the University of Lisbon believes that Portugal is indeed out of the crisis faster than countries such as Greece and Italy. However, the policy of the Prime Minister of Costa Rica is not free. “Civil servants are now allowed to work 35 hours a week, but no more civil servants will be added.”
The hospital is understaffed
This was evident in public hospitals after the corona broke out. The large shortage of personnel has created a long waiting list for public hospitals. According to Murray, no money has been invested in large infrastructure projects for many years. “This is a problem that will not arise in the short term, but in the long run, you will definitely notice it.”
Tonight and tomorrow, European heads of government will discuss their social ambitions. The left-wing parties in the European Parliament hope to implement European social policies including the European minimum wage. The chance of this happening is small. Most countries want to continue to define their social policies.