Foreign minister denies Portugal is China’s ‘special friend in the EU’

Europe brainstorms over path back to mutual tourism

With countries like Portugal hemorrhaging money due to the collapse of tourism, yesterday’s meeting of European ministers was crucial.

Said head of diplomacy Augusto Santos Silva, this was “the moment in which we all learnt what the others were doing by way of deconfinement (emerging from lockdown)”.

The groundwork was laid for the formulation of measures that will allow ‘free circulation’ of citizens once again.

But dates – the detail everyone in the sector is waiting for – have yet to come.

Spain today suggested that it will be reopening its borders at the end of June – thus this may be the ‘line in the sand’.

For now, the mantra from all sides is that tourists have to feel ‘confident’ (just as citizens themselves have had to feel confident about returning their children to creches/ schools/ returning to work themselves/ going to restaurants, etc.)

This first meeting concluded with a joint statement from the countries involved (Portugal, Slovenia, Malta, Italy, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Austria and Germany), fully in favour of a phased, coordinated restoration of liberty of movement and stressing the importance of holidaymakers ‘being able to return home in safety’.

As this paper has already suggested (click here), Portugal is now “in contact with other countries that are relevant on a touristic level, such as the UK and nordic countries, to establish identical protocols for the return of tourism and circulation of people”, said the statement.

This is a roundabout way of saying the two-week quarantine period (imposed by the UK on any citizens taking holidays abroad) would not apply if those citizens came, for example, to Portugal (or any of the other countries establishing ‘identical protocols’).

Reiterated Santos Silva: “We can only really return to tourism if people are confident”.

A second meeting of the 11 is due to go ahead in June.

Says Rádio Renasçenca this will be the moment the countries are expected to have adopted all “the necessary measures of prevention to protect travellers so that freedom of movement and travel can be restored”.

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