Portugal wants own post-Brexit deal with UK
Portugal has asked the European Union to accept a deal with the UK as it fears its economy would be devastated by a hard Brexit.
Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said on Wednesday that Brussels had left Lisbon in limbo because negotiators had failed to secure a timely Brexit deal.
The minister’s suggestion is that lengthy negotiations mean member states have been unable to make their own bi-lateral deals with the UK.
Santos Silva says that the Portuguese tourist, textile and automotive industries will suffer under a hard deal as UK imports fall after Brexit.
The United Kingdom is Portugal’s fourth largest export market but that could suffer a 26% decline according to the Daily Express.
Santos Silva said in Brussels on 31 November “My biggest concern right now is living in this kind of limbo, a state of suspension.”
“The fact that time is marching on without an exit agreement creates more concern because it makes possible a scenario of exit without agreement which for Portugal would be the worst of scenarios — and at the same time it limits member states like Portugal being able to strike their own bi-lateral trade deals.”
His frustrations surround the EU’s reliance on chief negotiator Michel Barnier in the process.
The European Commission official is the only EU representative allowed to hold official Brexit negotiations with Britain, meaning member states are blocked from making their own contingency deals bilaterally.
Mr. Santos added: “We cannot do bilateral negotiations until March 2019 and the only negotiations being conducted on behalf of all 27 states is Mr. Barnier.”
The Confederation of Portuguese Business report total exports to the UK amounted to €8.3 billion in 2016.