Portuguese Foreign Affairs Minister is “working on Brexit agreement”

  • ECO News
  • 18 October 2018

Foreign Affairs Minister stated last Monday that the country is working on ways to mitigate the effects of a most-feared 'no-deal' Brexit. Prime Minister, Costa, defends bilateral agreements.

Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs said on Tuesday that the country was working in Brussels and in London on a Brexit agreement but that Lisbon was ready for all possible scenarios. The Prime Minister, speaking after the Brexit Summit this Thursday, defended that Member states should start working on their contingency plans, and bilateral agreements in case of a ‘no-deal’.

Augusto Santos Silva was speaking at the end of a plenary meeting of the permanent Commission for social stability, headed by prime minister António Costa and focused exclusively on the European Council’s Brexit debate scheduled for Wednesday.

The foreign affairs minister, speaking to the press last Monday, stated that “everything is better than a ‘no-deal’ Brexit (…) and article 50 predicts that the time for negotiations can be extended for two more years, if necessary, for a reason”.

As for negotiations between both countries, two main dimensions are concerning both the British and the Portuguese: the minister’s top concerns are the Portuguese people residing in Great Britain, and likewise, those of British origin living in Portugal, noting that “the UK guaranteed it will respect the rights of the Portuguese people residing in Great Britain, even if there is a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, which will be a bilateral and reciprocal agreement, as Portugal will likewise respect the rights of the British people residing in Portugal”.

Besides that, another issue that concerns politicians on both sides is the effect it will certainly have in trade, and as such, diplomats are working on ways to find, even on a ‘no-deal’ scenario, solutions that lower these awaited negative effects.

The third dimension, of companies, is one of the most important ones. “We are working with enterprises in order to mitigate the risks”, he said.

“We are working in Brussels and in London to reach an agreement, but we are ready for all scenarios, including no deal,” he told journalists following a meeting with social partners.

“We have worked consistently with other member states so that an agreement will be possible and we think it is possible to reach a desirable agreement.”

He added that Portugal was particularly interested in the Brexit process because of the many Portuguese citizens residing in the United Kingdom and to “very close” economic ties between both countries.

However, he pointed out that Britain’s prime minister Theresa May had promised that the rights of EU citizens would be respected even in a no deal scenario.

Santos Silva also said the Portuguese government was working to mitigate negative effects of Brexit and underlined the importance of working together with companies and trade unions to figure out what the main difficulties were and which sectors and regions would require the most support.

Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union hit an impasse last weekend over the Northern Ireland border.

The Prime Minister of Portugal, talking to the press in Brussels at the European Council this Thursday, stated that “it is only natural that, in the case of a no-deal, European counterparts start working their way towards bilateral agreements with the UK.”

The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, almost three years after the referendum vote that saw around 52% of British citizens vote in favour of splitting from the Europen bloc.