Derniers développements de la politique européenne au Portugal
Since the enw government has taken office, the Portuguese position towards Europe, or better saying, the Portuguese role in the construction of Europe has not been as active as before.
Some examples of the change in policy towards Europe are the following:
- "The position of the Portuguese government last December against the EU position on Belarus (the Danish Presidency put forward an initiative to block the entry of Alexandre Lukachenko and other Belarus ministers into the EU) to save the summit of the OSCE of which Portugal was holding the Presidency. Portugal vetoed the decision that was about to be taken with the argument that the OSCE can only meet and fix the agenda by using unanimity and Portugal felt that sanctions against Belarus would jeopardize the success of the summit. This caused some negative reactions by other countries and some diplomatic tensions.
- " The public threat of the Portuguese agriculture Minister saying that Portugal could veto Enlargement if the Portuguese demands in agriculture would not be met before enlargement takes place.
- " The complete absence of Portugal in the debate within the convention (no proposals are put forward and sometimes contradictory positions are assumed).
- " The withdrawal of Portugal from the European project of the Airbus A-400M military aircraft. The new government decided to buy the aircrafts from Lockheed instead. When justifying his position the Portuguese Minister of Defence (leader of the Popular Party) said the European Airplanes were 250 million euros more expensive and that he was in favour of "European options but not of European obsessions".
What has caused this scenario?
- " The present Portuguese government is formed by a coalition of two political parties (the social democrats and the popular party). Whilst the social democrats, along the socialists, have always been in favour of deepening the process of European integration, the popular party has always been euro sceptic. Indeed, its Euro scepticism has caused them the expulsion from the PPE some years ago. The obvious result is that in order for the coalition to survive, Europe has been completely absent from the debate and Portugal has been avoiding taking a definite position in most matters.
- " Domestic politics has been a priority for the new government, namely the attainment of the priority of lowering the deficit value to below the 3% threshold, which seems to have been achieved.
- " Some traditional right wing politicians that are present in the new government are taking the opportunity to claim for one of the most traditional arguments used by the right in Portugal which is to turn Portugal more to Africa and Brazil. In other words, to make Africa and Brazil one of the priorities of the Portuguese foreign policy. This is highly positive if it does not happen at the expense of Europe.
Overall, the Portuguese role in he construction of Europe seems to be still unclear to the new government who does not yet seem to have found an efficient way of balancing the different tendencies towards Europe that are present in the new government. All these decisions are however likely to have negative effects, especially in 2006 when Portugal will need to negotiate a new financial aid package.