Portugal’s PM to stress the importance of convergence at International Club of Portugal
With only weeks away from Portugal’s General Election, the Prime Minister of the current ruling PS socialist party António Costa is likely to hammer home his election message that Portugal’s public spending and borrowing is under control to overseas investors and diplomats on tomorrow at the International Club of Portugal.
But the Prime Minister will no doubt also drum home a message that he gave to the European Parliament last year; that a greater convergence of the European Union countries is vital to protect the European Union and its members against the kinds of financial, social and political shocks it endured during the great Recession and Sovereign Debt Crisis between 2008 and 2014.
As guest speaker on the theme ‘A decade of convergence with the European Union’ the Prime Minister will undoubtedly use the lunch with around 200 people as a platform to not only reinforce the message that Portugal is stronger with and committed to Europe, but issue an appeal for unity and solidarity within the European Union at a time of growing populism in Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic and increasing political instability and uncertainty in the UK over Brexit.
After succeeding the conservative PSD prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho and his coalition government with the centre-right CDS-PP in October 2015 as the leader of a socialist government supported by the far left Bloco Esquerda and communist parties, António Costa was initially met with skepticism in Brussels that his government would be able to keep a lid on spending, but has since gradually gained the confidence of his EU colleagues to the point that he may ultimately secure a high-ranking position on the commission after he leaves the political arena.
In fact, he addressed the European Parliament last year when he argued that “Portugal cannot expect more from Europe without giving more to Europe” at a EU Plenary #Future of Europe.
Aware that in recent years the EU has been “rocked” by a series of crises unprecedented in its history, from the Great Economic Recession of 2008 to Brexit and the Refugee Crisis in the summer of 2016 he called for convergence in that address.
With the return of economic growth in recent years and Brexit not triggering the disintegration of the European Union, Costa believes that there is no “room for complacency” and that the EU must live up to its “historic responsibility”, with Portugal understanding that being part of Europe is not just a happenstance of geography and history but a “community of values”.
“Only through building a genuine European Union that is more economically, politically and socially cohesive in terms of society and in territorial terms will be able to be competitive”, he said.
And for this to be tenable there are “two clear priorities”: the completion of economic and monetary union and convergence — both key for the survival of the Union in Europe. “It is the only way to provide security in the Eurozone by reducing risks and sharing the benefits.
The financial crisis, he said, had lifted the lid on the weakness of the single currency but faced with an emergency, a meltdown was avoided thanks to measures from the European Central Bank through quantitative easing and cashflow to the banks, thereby avoiding the risk of a breakup the EU fearing.