Friday, June 28, 2024

EX-prime minister Costa now a European president in Brussels


Former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa has been formally appointed to take on the second highest job in the European Union, that of President of the European Council. Ursula Von der Leyen has been reinstated for a second term as President of the European Commission.


The nominations were approved at a special summit on Thursday by the chancellor of Germany, the president of France and the prime ministers of Greece, Poland the Netherlands and Spain.


The outcome had been widely predicted, though Costa’s forced resignation as prime minister last December raised eyebrows.


A lesser-known politician, Estonia’s Kaja Kallas , is to lead the bloc’s foreign policy service. These three key officials are expected to serve for the next five years.


The main critic since the first hint of confirmation on Tuesday has been Hungary’s Viktor Orban who believes the results have been hatched by the European People’s Party, with leftists and liberals. This runs counter to everything the EU was based on, says Orban. He insists that the top officials should represent every member state including his own, which is led by right-wing nationalists.



The main challenges facing the top three leaders and their advisers are expected to be political turmoil at home, and the prospect of a highly divisive President Donald Trump abroad.


Von der Leyen is a German conservative Her second term in the number one position places her in charge of the bloc’s executive branch. Costa, until recently leader of Portugal’s Socialist Party, will now be at the helm of the authority which includes the heads of government of the EU’s 27 member states. The two top leaders are generally seen as an appropriate balance in terms of their political and geographical backgrounds.


A significant contribution to Costa’s success in his bid for the Brussels job was the unequivocal backing he received from Portugal’s Prime Minister Luis Montenegro, despite the fact that Montenegro heads the centre-right coalition that has long rivalled the centre-left Socialists in Portugal’s national elections.


Costa made many key allies when he attended an EU summit in Brussels in January. Yet just a month earlier he stepped down as Portugal’s leader when investigations got underway into alleged irregularities in his government’s handling of several large investment projects. Costa denied any wrong-doing and was never charged.  However, several of his close associates remain under investigation


Costa, 62, is believed to have all the right credentials for Brussels, including that of a moderate profile combing socialist democratic values with an orthodox approach to the economy. It is also seen as a “pragmatic negotiator.” His career so far has included working as a lawyer, mayor of Lisbon, and prime minister from 2015 to 2023.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

British troops help troubled Irish homeowner in the Algarve

Orla Dargan

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Former Portuguese PM heads for top European Union job in Brussels

The Portuguese government and Prime Minister Luis Montenegro’s Democratic Alliance party have fully endorsed the bid by former Prime Minister António Costa to become the next president of the European Council.

Costa is the favourite for the job as his nomination is also receiving so much support from leaders in other EU countries, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and even Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

Costa made many key allies when he attended an EU summit in Brussels last December. Yet just a month earlier, he had been obliged to step down as Portugal’s prime minister and head of the Socialist Party (PS) as investigations got underway into alleged irregularities in his government’s handling of several large investment projects. Costa denied any wrong-doing and was never charged.

He is expected to soon replace the current European Council chief, Charles Michel of Belgium, who, has served as the top official responsible since 2019 for organising summits at which the agendas are set for the 27 member states. Costa is said to have all the right credentials, including that of a “pragmatic negotiator,” for the task he is hoping to achieve.

Portugal’s two centrist parties have been rivals since the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Yet Luis Montenegro of the centre-right told a press conference after an informal meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on June 17, that acceptance of Costa of the centre left as president of the Council would garner Portugal’s “unequivocal support.”

Montenegro went on to say: “I can also claim following from what I said to my colleagues from the European People’s Party that this nomination meets all the requirements to be accepted and validated in a final decision.”

António Costa, 62, worked as a lawyer before becoming a member of the Portuguese parliament in 1991. His many positions since then have included mayor of Lisbon, elected in 2007, 2009, and 2013. He was  a minister of the European Committee of the Regions from 2010 to2015, adding to his considerable experience with the European Parliament and Council, before serving as  prime minister from 2015 to 2024.

Costa clearly has a long and probably very successful political career ahead of him.

Sunday, June 9, 2024



The results of the four-day EU Parliamentary elections across all 27 member states show an overall majority for the centrist parties, despite the predicted surge from the far-right groups. 

The 720 seats in parliament for the next five years will primarily consist of centre-right candidates with 186 seats, and an alliance of socialists and democrats holding 137.

The parliament will be fragmented in that the centrists do not always agree on all matters, and the far-right populists are very much divided in opinions between different countries.

It was a fair election with about 630 million eligible voters. The number of candidates was allocated according to each country’s population.

Portugal has elected its 21 parliamentarians to serve in Brussels The socialist group did best with eight seats, and the centre-right have seven.  The Left , Renew Europe, and the Identify and Democracy groups each have two. Portugal’s far-right missed out altogether. This has been the ninth EU election held in Portugal

Among the exit poll highlights:

The European People’s Party won 186 seats, a gain of 10 over the last parliament.

Socialist groups won 133, down six.

Renew Europe liberals, won 82, down 20.

ECR conservatives and reformists, won 70 seats, up one.

The far-right did especially well in Italy where Prime Minister Giorgie Meloni won a strong majority that boosts her leadership both at home and in Europe.

Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France produced a historic win. It has caused President Emmanuel Macron to suddenly and surprisingly dissolve the French parliament and call a snap national election.

In Poland, Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said his country is a beacon of hope for Europe as his centrist pro-Europe Civic Coalition did well in the EU elections.

In Spain, the Socialist Workers Party is vying for first place with the conservative People’s Party. The hard-right is in third place.


This summary has been corrected since the exit polls on Sunday night

Wednesday, June 5, 2024


Portugal’s new government has announced a plan to restrict immigration for non-European Union citizens. Until now, under previous Socialist administrations, the arrangements have been very open.

The announcement came just days before the European Union elections in which immigration will be one of the hottest topics across all 27-member states.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Luis Montenegro aims to put an end to a liberal arrangement whereby immigrants could move into Portugal without an employment contract and only request a residency permit after a year of social security payments. The change will mean that non-EU citizens will no longer be allowed to “abuse” the system. They will need an employment contract to stay here.

The foreign population in Portugal has doubled in the last five years. A million or so people from abroad – roughly a tenth of Portugal’s total population – are now living in this country. Last year, 189,000 immigrants were legally accepted. Many Asian immigrants have found jobs on farms or in restaurants. Around 400,000 immigrant applications are currently pending, according to Montenegro.

“We need people in Portugal willing to help us build a fairer and more prosperous society,” he said this week. “But we cannot go to the other extreme and have wide-open doors.”

Entry of qualified professionals, students, people from Portuguese-speaking countries, and people seeking family reunions will be prioritised.

The move by Montenegro’s centre-right government is still too weak, according to the far-right Chega (Enough) party. Its founder and leader, Andre Ventura, has expressed strong opposition to the presence of non-EU immigrants, particularly from Islamic countries. Similar attitudes are shared by far-right parties across the continent, especially in Germany, where immigrants used to be welcomed before the height of the immigration crisis triggered by Syria’s civil war in 2015, and Italy, which has become the favoured entry point for immigrants illegally crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

The EU has already approved a pact that will see hardened borders and shared responsibilities among member states. EU economy ministers officially signed the landmark Migration and Asylum pact last month. It ended eight years of work to rewrite the rule book for people entering Europe without authorisation. The majority of members backed the 10 pieces of legislation in the agreement. Hungary and Poland opposed it as they have long rejected the idea that all European countries should take in a share of arriving immigrants.

The new rules will only come into effect in 2026. They lay out the process for screening people to establish whether they qualify for some kind of asylum protection, or should be deported.


We will up-date readers about the elections over the weekend.