Marcelo in Malta keen to see fairness in how EU allows countries to support populations
Talking with Poland's head of State Andrzej Duda, President Marcelo is keen to understand the level of support to citizens of other European countries. Photo: from Marcelo's official site for the presidency

Marcelo in Malta keen to see fairness in how EU allows countries to support populations

Arraiolos Group meeting brings together 14 non-executive European heads of State

One of President Marcelo’s objectives in today’s meeting of the Arraiolos Group in Malta is to gauge what other countries in Europe are doing to help their populations through the current cost-of-living crisis, in order to evaluate fairness.

As he told journalists, due to the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine, countries like Germany, for example, have announced a €200 billion support package for their citizens – while Poland has warned that it will be registering “a monumental increase” in its deficit to ensure citizens are cushioned.

Nonetheless, financial rules in Europe have seen other countries, like Portugal, say they cannot spend too much as otherwise they would enter into ‘default’.

“How does one deal with this at European level, so that the treatment of the various countries is fair? The EU should not have some countries which can increase their deficits without consequences and others, which by increasing their deficit even less, are immediately singled out as defaulters”, he said, without specifically mentioning Portugal, but leaving the inference well out there.

The importance of this meeting, for Portugal, is that it comes as the government is solidifying its proposals for next year’s State Budget.

If Marcelo gets the impression that more could indeed be done to help citizens, it seems very likely he will pass this message on to the prime minister on his return.

The meeting today, in Valletta, brings together 14 European presidents. Marcelo is due to speak personally (in the form of bilateral meetings) with his German and Italian counterparts (Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Sergio Mattarella), writes Lusa. He has already had a meeting, last night, with the president of Poland Andrzej Duda.

The Arraiolos Group is a initiative founded by Marcelo’s late predecessor Jorge Sampaio. It comes as Ukraine is making new strides in the war – ‘recovering’ control of areas illegally annexed by Russia – as well as in the context that Italy has just had new elections, resulting in the forming of a right wing government.

Lusa dubs the Italian victory as being a ‘coalition of the right and extreme right’, albeit many citizens in Italy have to devalued the far-right connotation.

The Arraiolos Group has brought together heads of state from 15 EU countries in recent years (it started with six, in 2003): Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Latvia, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland.

Today’s meeting will be attended by Slovakia for the first time, after President Zuzana Caputova expressed her country’s intention to join the group.

The Presidents of Austria and Finland are unable to attend due to ‘scheduling reasons’.

Says Lusa, “it has already been decided that next year’s meeting of the Arraiolos Group, in its 18th edition, will be held in Portugal, marking the initiative’s 20th anniversary”, while the 2024 meeting will be held in Poland.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com