Portugal joined the European Economic Community on 1 January 1986 along with Spain, bringing the number of member states to twelve. Portugal has also been part of the euro zone since 1999 and part of the Schengen Area since 1995.
The most westerly point of the European continent lies in Portugal - the Cabo da Roca. Some 40 kilometres west of Lisbon, the cape towers 140 metres above the ocean. Portugal’s territory also embraces the Azores and Madeira (with Porto Santo). The country is home to 10.3 million people. About three million Portuguese live in other countries around the world. In the European Union most expatriate Portuguese live in France, Germany and Luxembourg.
Accession to the European Economic Community in 1986 gave Portugal’s economy a huge boost. The Single Market brought about a radical structural change in the country. Traditionally an agrarian state, Portugal saw its services sector become the most important pillar of the economy. Tourism is by far the country’s largest source of income. More than 20 million foreign tourists visit Portugal every year.
On 1 January 2021, Portugal will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the fourth time, following 1992, 2000 and 2007. On 13 December 2007, under Portugal’s Presidency, the EU reached a milestone: The Treaty of Lisbon was signed. It came into effect on 1 December 2009 and is still the legal foundation of the EU today. The Treaty also strengthened the influence of the European Parliament.
“Time to deliver: a fair, green and digital recovery” - that is the motto of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic it must be ensured that the decisions on financial assistance “actually impact on people’s lives, on their livelihoods, on their chances and access to jobs,” declared Portugal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Santos Silva. Other focuses will include multilateralism, crisis resilience and a green and digital transition.