A Spanish police officer checks a car at the border between Portugal and Spain, following an order from the Spanish government to set up controls at its land borders over coronavirus, in Vilar Formoso, Portugal, March 17, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

LISBON – The Portuguese presidency of the European Union (EU) called on member states on Thursday to present “concrete actions” for “strong commitment to well-being in Social Europe” in a bid to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

“The pandemic tragically revealed the increased risk of the disease and social exclusion. Therefore, it is essential to have policies to improve health care facilities,” said Portuguese Minister of State and the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva, representing the EU presidency at the launch of the “Atlas of Demography” platform by the European Commission on Thursday.

Due to economic uncertainties, she said, there is a need to “guarantee conditions for families, from housing, universal child care and inclusion of young people in the labor markets.”

According to her, special care is needed for immigrants who are among the most affected by the socioeconomic impacts caused by the pandemic, which will have “an essential role in the rejuvenation of the workforce and the mitigation of demographic imbalances.”

The Portuguese presidency also wants to define concrete objectives to reduce the number of people at risk of social exclusion or poverty at the Social Summit in Porto, setting the European agenda for the next decade.

“We are going to focus on crucial dimensions — on employment, innovation and skills, well-being and social protection. These are essential elements for the empowerment of our citizens, a strong impetus for the action plan of the European Pillar of Social Rights,” she said.