"I believe there is a misunderstanding about what we have adopted concerning the British people because we have adopted what is the general recommendation of the EU".
Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, on Thursday said that Portugal has applied the rules agreed at the European level to contain the pandemic Covid-19 to tourists from third countries, considering the idea that it was permissive with British tourists a “misunderstanding”.
Upon arrival at the European Council in Brussels, where EU heads of state and government will discuss coordination in the management of the pandemic, particularly in terms of free movement in light of new variants, Costa, confronted with the recent statements of the German chancellor, said he did not understand Angela Merkel’s words as a criticism of Portugal, agreed with the need for coordination among the 27, and assured that he will apply whatever the Council agrees to tourists coming from the UK.
“We have always acted in a coordinated way and under the decisions that the EU has been taking, whether concerning flights from third countries or concerning free movement within each of the member states. We have done this, and will continue to do so,” he said.
Regarding Merkel’s statements, who on Tuesday criticised the lack of common rules in the European Union regarding travel, giving as an example the situation of increased contagion in Portugal, which “could have been avoided”, António Costa said that “she is right” regarding the need for coordinated action concerning external borders and assured that the government has been following the guidelines agreed at EU level.
“In Portugal, we have been practising that. I believe there is a misunderstanding about what we have adopted concerning the British people because we have adopted what is the general recommendation of the EU, which is the imposition of quarantines on countries that are above a certain number of cases – the British were not – and, on the other hand, the requirement for mandatory testing, which has been the requirement concerning the British”, he pointed out.
About the fact that the German Chancellor had pointed out the specific case of Portugal, he considered that she did not make a criticism, she put a hypothesis, as many people have done, regarding what is the origin of this variant, Delta, which, according to a new report from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), will represent 90% of Covid-19 cases in the EU at the end of August.
Regarding the possibility of Portugal ‘closing the borders’ to the British people, or imposing quarantines on those travelling from the UK, the prime minister insisted that Portugal will do whatever is agreed in the Council, as it has always done, and, if that is the understanding, yes, as the UK should not have any exception treatment.
“We are going to discuss here in the Council what decisions we are going to take, once again, regarding the control of the entry of persons originating from third countries, namely the United Kingdom, and Portugal has followed the doctrine of practising what is agreed at European level. As we are also holding the presidency, it would be particularly bad for us not to follow what is agreed at the European level”, he noted.
Coordination between member states in the fight against the pandemic of Covid-19 will again be one of the dominant themes of the summit of heads of state and government of the EU taking place between today and Friday in Brussels, where Costa will assess the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU, as this is the last European Council during the ‘Portuguese semester’, which ends next Wednesday, 30 June.