From 10 to 11 March, the German‑Portuguese Forum offers a broad base to strengthen the dialogue between the two countries. Topics will include the future of the European Union and the role of the constitutional courts in Germany and Portugal.
“Two Partners for Europe” – that is the motto of the second German‑Portuguese Forum which is currently taking place at the Federal Foreign Office. Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier and his Portuguese counterpart Rui Machete gave the opening speeches. Steinmeier opened by joking about the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which could place a strain on good German‑Portuguese relations – the two countries will be pit against each other in the group matches.
Portugal’s economy is gaining momentum
Machete began his speech in German and then changed to his native language to praise German‑Portuguese relations as very “intensive”, “friendly” and “close”. With regard to the economic crisis he expressed his thanks for the “solidarity and help which Germanyconsistently offered”.
For his part, Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed great recognition for the efforts made by Portugaland the Portuguese people: “The current financial assistance programme in Portugalis coming to an end. I believe that we have more than just a chance of overcoming the economic crisis.” The EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF)s’ financial assistance programme for Portugalruns out on 17 May 2014. According to experts, the signs that the country will be able to make a successful return to financial markets are positive.
A wide variety of topics
Around 200 participants from Germanyand Portugal came to Berlin to discuss a wide variety of topics. Among others, the judges Peter M. Huber (Germany) and Joaquim Coelho de Sousa Ribeiro (Portugal) will take part in a discussion about the role of the constitutional courts in Germanyand Portugal on European integration.
In further panel discussions, possibilities for cooperation between the two countries in the fields of reform policies and competitiveness will also be discussed. German and Portuguese perspectives on the transatlantic partnership and possible reforms of the EU institutions are also on the agenda.
State Secretaries Jörg Asmussen (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Berlin) and Bruno Maçães, responsible for European Affairs in Lisbon, will give the concluding speeches on 11 March.
The first German‑Portuguese Forum took place in Lisbon in January 2013. The event is organised by the Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI‑UNL), the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon as well as by the Institute for European Politics (IEP) in Berlin. IEP Managing Director Mathias Jopp voiced the hope that the meeting would become an annual event.