Government approves Hard Brexit protection measures
The Portuguese government has taken a step further in the event of the UK’s increasingly likely departure from the European Union without a deal.
The Council of Ministers has approved a raft of contingency measures which will now go to the parliament for approval.
The measures include the protection of British citizens in Portugal, support for Portuguese companies and more funding for the Portuguese border and immigration office SEF.
In addition to the creation of a €50 million credit line for companies exposed to Brexit, also support and incentives from Espaço Empresas (IAPMEI) which is an integrated service for companies that want to set up in Portugal, with information and help on creating a company, obtaining information on economic activity legislation and understanding the steps that need to be taken in order to set up a business.
The funds are specifically earmarked to help United Kingdom companies that want to transfer their headquarters to or open up a branch in Portugal.
A marketing campaign in the UK developed by the Portuguese tourist board Turismo de Portugal is also planned.
And anticipating some chaos at the airports, SEF has funds to spend on purchasing technical equipment and taking on extra staff to work at the passport control points and issue documents.
In fact, according to the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, SEF is going to take on a further 116 inspectors.
Trade between the UK and Portugal has consistently grown since 2013 with exports to the UK rising from €2.61Bn to €3.64Bn in 2017.
Imports from the UK have remained relatively stable since 2011 when they represented €1.67Bn and €1.86Bn in 2017.
For British citizens living in Portugal a proposal has been approved which includes the rights to residency, attendance at high educational facilities, recognition of professional qualifications, social security, access to the national health system and recognition of driving licenses.
The application of this law, which is currently being examined by the Portuguese parliament and the condition would be accepted providing the British authorities offer equivalent treatment for Portuguese citizens in the United Kingdom.
Last week, the British Prime Minister Theresa May had a significant telephone call with Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa as part of a series of calls to leaders of EU countries concerning the Government’s attempts to secure consensus in parliament for an orderly exit from the European Union. While not specified, it is likely these current contingency measures too were raised.
Britain’s departure from the EU is planned for 29 March but an agreement has still not been reached over the thorny question of the Irish backstop but some MPs within the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are seeking for the deadline period to be extended beyond that date.