New Pact for Europe - National Report - PORTUGAL
This is the seventh in a series of National Reports to be published as part of the new phase of the New Pact for Europe project. According to the Portuguese NPE Reflection Group, the EU has shown a lot of resilience in the past few years when it had to deal with a multitude of crises, but it also warns of the dangers of being complacent. The EU is still facing several identity, legitimacy and institutional challenges, which are very complex and multi-dimensional.
Drawing on the discussions held amongst the members of the group, the report presents a set of conclusions on how to address the key challenges the Union and its member states are facing at the moment, and calls on them to take action to boost the legitimacy of the European integration project:
- One of the big questions is how to balance a more effective EU with a more democratic one. According to the latest Eurobarometer, 52% of Portuguese people are convinced their voice does not count in the EU. The Portuguese NRG therefor thinks it is important for the Commission to remain the main moderator and guardian of the EU's democratic values and principles, and a strong player vis-à-vis the agendas of the most powerful member states.
- The group proposes to emphasise the EU's institutional resilience and focus on doing better, rather than necessarily doing more. There was a consensus among the Portuguese National Reflection Group that mechanisms of "differentiated integration" or "variable geometry" will be further used. Economic and financial vulnerabilities must be addressed, a European Social Model put forward, and Portugal should participate in the improvement of the EU's defence capabilities.
- There is an urgent need to address the failure of political communication and develop tailor-made responses for the individual member states and for the different generations that now co-exist in the EU. At the same time, politicians and policymakers alike should ask themselves: How can we make a European Union that "protects without seeming protectionist"? How can we better defend and secure Europeans without becoming a "fortress" or relinquishing basic freedoms? How can we deal with the scale of the refugee crisis without betraying our core values and human dimension? And finally, how can we advance European integration and respect the voice of less powerful states?