The prime minister António Costa has said it may take a "definitive decision" for the location of the new Lisbon airport by the end of 2023.
Portugal’s prime minister has said that he is very close to reaching an understanding with the PSD social democrat opposition on “the methodology” to be followed for the location of the new Lisbon airport, in order to take a “definitive decision” by the end of 2023.
“I believe we will be in a position to, I would say next year, have that decision. I have had contacts with the new leader of the PSD, I think we will not be too far away from being able to settle on a methodology for carrying out the strategic environmental assessment that is necessary between the different possible solutions,” António Costa said.
The prime minister was speaking in an interview on TVI/CNN Portugal on Monday evening, conducted by journalists José Alberto de Carvalho and Pedro Santos Guerreiro.
Asked whether new locations would be studied in addition to those already known, the prime minister said he did not want to disturb the dialogue with PSD leader Luís Montenegro, which has taken place “in a peaceful manner”.
Faced with the insistence of the question, Costa replied that a strategic environmental assessment will be made of the alternatives that both he and Montenegro believe should be subject to that assessment.
“And after the strategic environmental assessment is concluded a final decision will be taken,” he said.
Costa stressed that he has insisted since 2015 that “major public work projects should merit the support of at least two thirds of the parties represented in parliament”, since they are works to be executed for decades.
“Using up even a year to be able to have a definitive decision for a problem that has been dragging on for more than 50 years, blessed year we will invest until the end of 2023,” he added.
Asked whether the minister of infrastructures, Pedro Nuno Santos, has been present at the meetings between the prime minister and Luís Montenegro, Costa replied: “Minister Pedro Nuno Santos will be present at the moments when we have to close the agreement and especially when we have to implement what is decided because it is the minister of infrastructures and housing who will necessarily put it into practice.
Confronted again with the question, Costa did not reply.
“Let’s stick to the following: I think that very soon we will be in a position to have an understanding between the government and the PPD/PSD on the methodology to be followed for a strategic environmental assessment that will allow the country to have a decision at the end of 2023 and that, desirably, I will do everything in my power to ensure that this happens. It will be a decision that not only has the support of this government, but at least has the support of the main opposition party and, if possible, of all the other parties”, he added.
Recently, the PSD leader said that there may be conditions for “a convergence of positions” with the government about the future international airport and argued that the project that foresees a location in Santarém “should at least be considered”.
The prime minister was also questioned about statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron, who last week considered more interconnections for gas transport between the Iberian Peninsula and France to be unnecessary, contrary to what Portugal, Spain and the European Commission have been advocating.
Costa began by stating that the European Commission has defined this project as a priority and has already said that “if France continues to block this gas pipeline from crossing French territory it will launch the project of the interconnection being made directly from Spain to Italy” by sea.
The prime minister said he hoped that France would open its border to this gas pipeline “as soon as possible” and that it would not be necessary to adopt this “plan B”, even though he understood that France had interests in selling nuclear power.