Last updated in January 2013
Political relations between Germany and Portugal are sound and broadly based. Germany was instrumental in building democratic structures in Portugal after the 1974 Carnation Revolution and supported Portugal’s 1986 accession to the European Community, now the European Union.
Thanks to close coordination prior to and during the two countries’ successive EU presidencies in 2007, political relations between Germany and Portugal have gained in intensity. The Treaty of Lisbon, prepared under the German EU Presidency, was signed under the Portuguese EU Presidency.
There is broad consensus between the two countries on questions of European and international policy. Even on difficult issues like resolving the crisis in the Eurozone, cooperation between the two governments is close and trustful.
Former Federal President Wulff paid an official visit to Portugal in February 2011. German Bundesrat President Seehofer met for talks with Portugal’s Prime Minister Passos Coelho and President Cavaco Silva on 29 October 2012.
Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho visited Berlin on 1 September 2011 and 19 January 2012 and Federal Chancellor Merkel was in Lisbon on 12 November 2012 for bilateral talks. Portugal’s Foreign Minister Portas visited Berlin on 9 September 2011. Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle was in Lisbon on 9 and 10 December 2011 for talks with Portugal’s President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Germany is Portugal’s second most important trading partner, after Spain, accounting for approximately 13 per cent of both Portuguese exports and imports and recording a marked balance of trade surplus.
German companies have had their own production facilities in Portugal since the beginning of the 20th century and continue to rank first among investors in the country’s industrial sector where the number of highly skilled jobs being created is particularly high.
2012 was the first year in many decades that Portugal’s balance of trade with Germany was in equilibrium. This was due in large part to increased Portuguese exports to Germany (up by 16 per cent in 2011).
Although in recent years a number of German companies have moved production to lower-wage locations, Germany still has a significant presence there, particularly in the automotive manufacturing sector. New areas of cooperation include medical technology and renewable energy. German investments have made a major contribution to modernizing Portuguese industry and improving its export capability. Portugal is a popular tourist destination for Germans, the number of visitors from Germany growing by approximately 10 per cent in 2012.
There has traditionally been a lively cultural exchange between Portugal and Germany. This is evidenced by the two prestigious binational German Schools in Lisbon and Porto, which are attended by a total of approximately 1,700 mainly Portuguese pupils, the two Goethe Institutes offering programmes tailored to the needs of young people in Portugal and a multitude of university partnerships.
Growing German interest in Portugal as a place for doing research is reflected in the Fraunhofer Society’s establishment in 2009 of a subsidiary conducting research in key technologies in Porto.
A remaining challenge is increasing the relatively small number of students learning German at Portugal’s schools. There is currently evidence of a marked increase in the demand for German instruction at Portuguese universities and the Goethe Institute, one factor here being the growing interest in working in Germany in the wake of the economic crisis in Portugal.
Classical and contemporary German music enjoy high regard in Portugal. There is also a keen interest in contemporary German literature, philosophy, art, design, theatre, dance and cinema. Conversely, there is a market in Germany for contemporary Portuguese literature and interest in Portuguese productions (e.g. cinema).