Portuguese American Journal

US Elections: Lisbon welcomes leadership change in Washington – Portugal

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, was among the first world leaders to congratulate president-elect Joe Biden.

He tweeted on Saturday: “We look forward to working with the new USA Administration to reinforce transatlantic relations and cooperate on global issues, such as climate change, defense of democracy and international security.”

Costa was joined by other European leaders congratulating US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on winning the White House.

The defeat of President Trump will favor Portugal, which was among the countries in Europe that would lose the most under an extended Trump administration.

Washington has been pressuring Lisbon to ban Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from establishing a 5G network infrastructure in the country.

Reacting to Washington pressure, Foreign Minister Santos Silva reiterated recently that any bids from 5G Chinese operators “will be assessed in the light of strict Portuguese and EU regulations,” and that “Each country will make its own decisions about such matters.” 

The ending of the Trump administration coincides with Portugal preparing to presiding over the European Council, starting in the first half of 2021, effective January 1 until June 30, 2021.

This is the fourth time Portugal has presided over the EU Council since it joined the European Economic Community, in 1986.

The incoming Portuguese presidency happens when the EU relationship with the US was deteriorating, dominated by the US-China competition and Russia interference in European affairs.

America’s withdrawal from international leadership and President Donald Trump’s hostile approach to European countries were also pressing European leaders to welcoming a more favorable change in the Washington direction.

Currently, Portugal is looking forward to promoting its agenda of priorities leading to the European Council. For Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, the priorities begin with dealing with the grim coronavirus pandemic which is crippling the economy of the European block.

Other priorities include the completion of Economic and Monetary Union, the UK-EU relationship following Brexit, the EU’s relationships with Africa and India, climate change, digital transition, social welfare and inequality. Other concerns relate to water scarcity and drought.

The presidency of the European Council is currently, as of July 2020, held by Germany. Three successive presidencies are known as presidency trios. The current trio (2020-2021) is made up of Germany (July–December 2020), Portugal (January–June 2021) and Slovenia (July–December 2021).

The current Germany presidency of the European Union has focused mostly on the future relationship with the UK, the deterioration in the relationship with the United States, and the COVID’19 pandemic.

Carolina Matos/Editor