Portugal

Portugal in Europe

Description of Portugal

The Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union describes portugal in the following terms: [1] A founder member of NATO and EFTA, Portugal applied to join the EC in 1977, the same year as Spain, and the two countries were admitted together in 1986. Previously, Portugal had been disqualified, having had an authoritarian government for 50 years (36 of them under the dictator Salazar), which ended only when a Marxist coup failed and democracy was restored in 1976. As one of the poorest member states Portugal is a major recipient of structural fundsfrom the Community. This has helped the country to achieve above average growth, and its budgetary discipline has been sufficient for it to have been invited in 1998 to join the first group of participants in the single currency.

Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal (the ‘Club Med’) together command 28 votes in the Council of Ministers, sufficient for a blocking minority under qualified majority voting (see more in this European encyclopedia). The countries share a number of interests, including an interest in the Common Fisheries Policy, although Portugal generally relies on the larger Club Med members to bear the brunt of negotiations to maximise the share of Community resources allocated to the south European coastal states. The Portuguese economy continued to expand in the late 1990s, bring much needed modernisation and raising the country’s GDP, on some measurements, to nearly 75% of the EU average (see more in this European encyclopedia). Questions remain, however, about the future (see more in this European encyclopedia). The standard of education has dropped and the country risks remaining dependent for competitiveness on low wages. The funding of universal free education and a burgeoning welfare state will be affected by the low birth rate, and when the EU’s enlargement brings in states with an even more pressing need for subsidies, the grants which Portugal has enjoyed may come under pressure (see more in this European encyclopedia). It is therefore recognised that further reform may be needed if the country is to sustain its momentum.

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Notas y References

  1. Based on the book “A Concise Encyclopedia of the European Union from Aachen to Zollverein”, by Rodney Leach (Profile Books; London)

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