Portugal. According to
COUNTRYAAH, Portugal began the year of taking over the
presidency of the EU for the first time, despite the fact
that the Portuguese had been in the European Union since
1985. When Portugal was in turn for the first time, they
rejected the presidency because they did not yet feel ready
for the mission. The Presidency until July 1 seemed at first
glance to be a transport route between Germany's period
until the turn of the year and France, which began July 1.
But that did not happen. Prime Minister António Guterres and
his staff managed to get through decisions on important
issues and principles, as well as laying the foundations for
the 14 EU countries' sanctions against Austria to be lifted.
However, it soon became apparent that the sanctions were
a burden to the EU and that most of the 14 countries wanted
to remove them provided they did not lose face. The
sanctions were first lifted during the French presidency
that followed the Portuguese, but according to diplomatic
sources, Portuguese diplomatic dexterity was the basis.
António Guterres had a long private conversation in the bar
of the hotel with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel at
the summit in Santa Maria de Feira in June. Then, in
exchange for Portugal working to remove the sanctions,
Austria would have agreed to support a compromise on a
common tax harmonization within the EU. The 15 EU countries
could then agree on the "Fairy Compromise",
For twelve years, the other EU countries had tried in
vain to get Austria and Luxembourg to agree on a tax
harmonization. When Portugal managed to reach a compromise
on this issue, it can be seen as a diplomatic achievement
and the golden key that closed the door to a largely
successful presidency. As usual in such cases, the security
measures at the summits were rigorous. Everything also went
smoothly, with the exception of one incident when a man,
disguised as a journalist, threw a red ink egg inside the
Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar. Security was
further tightened, and in particular the search for eggs.
Nevertheless, a Portuguese journalist managed to bring a
boiled egg into and out of the meeting rooms.
There has been hardly any debate about the EU in
Portugal, where the Portuguese are generally happy with the
membership, which has given them increased living standards
and reduced unemployment - the latter at around 4% at the
end of the year. They were also pleased with the government
and their prime minister. In last year's polls, António
Guterres was just one step ahead of President Jorge Sampaio,
who supported 63% ahead of the presidential elections in
Domestic policy was slowing down until the autumn, when
Parliament would vote on the government's draft budget. Then
it was called. Although António Guterres and his Socialist
Party PS (Partido Socialista) won a convincing victory in
the 1999 elections, they did not succeed in obtaining a
majority in Parliament, but had to settle for half of the
Therefore, the Prime Minister needed support from another
party, but although he threatened to announce new elections
unless the draft budget was adopted, he failed to get any
opposition party to stand. António Guterres then turned to
Daniel Campelo, MP for the right-wing People's Party PP
(Partido Popular) and did a political cow trading with him.
It meant that Daniel Campelo would cast his vote in the
budget vote against state aid promises of eight points to
Ponte de Lima in northern Portugal, where he is mayor.
The cow trade triggered a scream from the opposition and
murmurs in António Guterre's own ranks. The prime minister
reassured little conviction that there had been no cow
trading at all but plans for state aid to the northern
region had long since existed.
Paradoxically, most people were probably quite content
with Portugal escaping a prolonged political crisis. See Digopaul. Daniel Campelo is thought to have earned himself one of the
country's most popular mayors during the year.