Heiko Maas travelled to Portugal today, where he met with his counterpart Augusto Santos Silva. Maas used his first bilateral visit to make a case for greater cooperation on European issues:
Germany and Portugal are in absolute agreement that our future must lie in a united Europe – a Europe United. We both want Europe to be strong and sovereign. And we believe this requires close coordination and solidarity.
In tackling its difficult economic crisis, Portugal was aided by European solidarity and energetically implemented reforms that are now bearing fruit. The German Foreign Minister praised Portugal for its efforts. He said that Portugal’s good current situation was not a matter of course. Maas went on to point out that Portugal’s economic upswing and stability were made possible by reforms – some of which were painful.
TheTrio Presidency of the Council and the German Portuguese Forum
In 2021, Portugal will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union when Germany’s term ends, and will then be followed by Slovenia. The two Foreign Ministers agreed to jointly shape this Trio Presidency and also to hold regular consultations with Slovenia to discuss a common agenda of important projects. Another key forum for exchange is the German Portuguese Forum. Maas and Santos Silva want to reinvigorate this format. At its 2019 meeting in Lisbon, there will be a particular focus on Europe.
Vocational education and training
Due to a shortage of skilled workers, Portugal is placing emphasis on vocational education and training, also as an alternative to a university education. The Portuguese Government is seeking to further expand cooperation with German companies in this sphere. A joint memorandum of understanding has already been negotiated and is due to be signed in early 2019.