Portugal: a supporter of further enlargement

Luis Pais Antunes
Portuguese support to the accession of new member states, in particular in the cases of Iceland and Croatia, is clearly not a priority in these difficult times. There are several reasons for this. Of course, the feeling that Europe should find the most adequate instruments to face the current crisis before opening its doors again is probably the main one. But the fact that we are talking about distant countries may also justify this apparent lack of interest. In the last available Eurobarometer, Portuguese level of support to the accession of Iceland and Croatia was clearly below the EU-27 average. One of the few cases where the Portuguese level of support was greater than the EU-27 average was Turkey (with around 50 percent compared to 45 percent).
Among the government and the main political parties there is an apparent consensus over the fact that no candidate should be in a privileged position and that the normal procedures have to be respected. Delegations of candidate countries often pay a visit to Portuguese institutions (not only parliament and government, but also civil society organisations) and receive encouragements on their quest.
A very recent statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luis Amado – on the request of Equatorial Guinea to enter the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) – seemed to confirm the official position of the Portuguese government. Amado stated that it would have to follow the same path as Turkey and Croatia are following, by adopting the necessary reforms to adapt themselves to the requirements imposed by the European Union.[1] But the lack of a specific reference to Iceland at this point in time could also be interpreted as a turning point vis-à-vis last year’s declaration when Amado stated that there was no short track for Iceland, being in a similar position as any other candidate, such as Croatia, Serbia or Turkey.

[1] Newspaper “i”, 23 July 2010.