Fernando Medina
Fernando Medina is concerned that Portugal would end up receiving less money from the EU if the bloc expands eastwards.... Image: Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

Finance minister warns of “dangers of eastward EU expansion”

By arithmetic alone, Portugal will move to top of bloc’s ‘richest countries’ 

Portugal’s finance minister, Fernando Medina, has said today that the eastward enlargement of the European Union is a challenge for Portugal – particularly because of  “potential changes to cohesion funds”.

Fernando Medina was speaking at the annual congress of the Association of Economists on “Portugal and the challenges of the present: the role of economists and managers” at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

“We have to start preparing for what the country’s future will be in the context of post-enlargement of the European Union (EU),” he said, defending the importance of the creation of the fund for structuring investment after 2026, announced during the presentation of the 2024 budget.

For Medina, this “is one of the main challenges on which the country has not given sufficient and in-depth thought” in the face of an “enlargement process which, if it materialises sooner than other enlargement processes, will change the map of the European Union in a very significant way.

“From geopolitical issues, where an eastward enlargement will naturally strengthen the eastward tilt of the European Union, but above all from the point of view of all the governance and financial instruments at Union level.” 

Mr Medina went on: “the frugal will continue to be frugal and that resistance to changing the general framework of financing rules will obviously be a major difficulty“.

“The estimated direct impact of enlargement will immediately cause Portugal to change its position within the range of countries, namely those that benefit significantly from cohesion policy funds,” he added.

“By arithmetic alone, Portugal will quickly move to the top of the richest countries in an enlarged Union“, he said.

Says Lusa, “according to Medina, the enlargement process will be associated with a “very” significant integration of the population, but at the same time, in general, “with incomes well below the EU average”.

Source material: LUSA