EU enlargement threat to Portugal
Portugal is at risk of becoming even more peripheral because of EU enlargement in Eastern Europe.
This is the opinion of former minister of Foreign Affairs, António Martins da Cruz, who argues that EU enlargement is “completely negative for Portugal” and that the strategic axis currently centred in Germany and France is likely to move eastwards with Poland gaining economically.
Speaking at a conference organised by the business daily Negócios, “The Power to make it happen” he said that of the 10 countries are currently “knocking at the door of the EU” to join the current 27 Member States, only Turkey is unlikely to join anytime soon, after having been rejected by the EU.
However, he thinks Turkey not being considered was a “geo-strategic error, which partly explains Ankara’s position recently.”
António Martins da Cruz says the other nine candidates (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine) will probably join because “France and Germany want it” so the EU will have “20 countries in the Centre and East of Europe, which means that Portugal will be even more peripheral” and the Franco-German axis will move more to the East.
He also predicts that Spain will be eclipsed as the fourth largest European economy by Poland. The ambassador added that all of the nine candidates had a worse lifestyle than the Portuguese, and that meant the end of EU structural and investment funds for countries like Portugal.
“In the rest of the world, Europe will be viewed in a different light because it has become weaker”, he argued.
However, speaking on the same panel, Isabel Mota, ex-president of the Gulbenkian pointed out that the adhesion process would bring challenges for Portugal, but said without EU enlargement Europe ran the greater risk of de-structuring.
Livia Franco, the main research fellow at IEP-Católica university argued that “Europe must function more like other countries because the “US looks at Europe as a thing of the past, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic. If we don’t change this, the rest of the world will continue to look at Europe in his manner.”