In an open letter signed by associations such as ZERO, Transparency and Integrity and Corporate Europe Observatory, the Portuguese government is asked to ensure that the presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2021 does not “put the interests of big business before the public interest”.

“The Presidency must undertake to keep all contacts withlobbyists in the fossil fuel industry to an absolute minimum”, they added, considering it “shocking” that the economic recovery plan for the post-covid-19 crisis was “drawn up by a representative” of that industry - António Costa Silva, manager of the Partex oil company.

They consider that in the context of a climate emergency, theinterests of the fossil fuel industry are “in direct contradiction with the public interest, which is to abandon its use”.

They consider that in the context of the pandemic and climatecrisis, “the rule of law is under threat in several [European] countries and basic democratic values are being attacked,” and they argue that the Portuguese presidency must be guided by transparency, publishing all meetings with lobbyists held over the next six months.

“The public has a right to know who is trying to influence the Portuguese government, including during the presidency,” they argue.

They also call on the Portuguese presidency to reject “all forms of sponsorship” for any of its activities, noting that countries that held previous presidencies “tainted their reputation by accepting companies to sponsor their activities”.

The organisations signing the document say that PortugueseMPs have little capacity to hold the government accountable “for its decisions in the European Union or to scrutinise [the executive’s] positions before they are presented in Brussels”, considering this to mean “a democratic deficit”.

“He said that the European Parliament should be able to vote on the new European laws and policies before they are discussed in the European Council, to allow them to be scrutinised by citizens and parliamentarians.

The letter can be consulted at