Brussels’ throttles back on concerns over Portugal’s 2018 State Budget

Despite dire warnings from the council of public finances, Brussels seems to have throttled back on its concerns about Portugal’s proposed State Budget.

Addressing journalists yesterday, prime minister António Costa said he was “tranquil” over “the capacity to execute the 2018 Budget” and believes that the reservations transmitted by the European Commission “are less than they have been”.

Using the analogy of someone driving a car who “knows exactly how he is going to drive” against someone who is just watching (“and obviously has a different point of view”), he managed to work the government right back into the driving seat, suggesting that, in the end, there are lots of areas where all concerned are in complete agreement.

Brussels may be dubious about Portugal’s belief that it can get its deficit down to 1%, but as PCP leader and government ally Jerónimo de Sousa quipped: “Brussels is always giving advice” and “has failed dismally” many times.

As for the much louder ‘negative message’ sounded earlier this week by economist Teodora Cardoso, Costa had another deft piece of logic.

“By nature the role of the Council of Public Finances is to have a conservative, prudent vision about the future”, he told journalists following a Web Summit meeting with former US vice-president Al Gore. “The role of the Government is to be attentive to risks, but be at the same time concentrate on good policies that have allowed good results”.

Moving swiftly on, he added that his government “has always overcome negative expectations” and this is what it means to keep doing.

He did not address Teodora Cardoso’s specific concerns however: that the new measures introduced by the government are worth only €228 million and cannot pay for the effects of the 2017 budget as it passes to 2018, which will cost €414 million.

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