Minister of Agriculture appeals to Brussels to reduce Portugal’s €143 million ‘fine’

Agriculture minister Assunção Cristas did her utmost in Brussels yesterday to get the EC to reduce the whopping €143 million which it says Portugal must pay back due to “irregularities” in the way subsidies were handed out to farmers during the years jailed prime minister José Sócrates was in power. It is not known whether she succeeded but what looks certain is that the commission will allow Portugal to pay in instalments.

As well as the €143 million due from the Sócrates’ years (2009-2011), a further €134 million is being requested in paybacks from Brussels, writes Público.

Portugal paid €68 million in 2014 and hopes to pay another €60 million this year – repeating the amount over subsequent years.

Leaving the meeting with agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan, Cristas revealed the negotiations had been partially successful in that Portugal hasn’t had to pay everything it owes at once. “Our strategy now is to battle for a reduction in the way everything has been worked out,” she told reporters, as the “efforts Portugal made in 2011” to make up for shortfalls have not been “fully appreciated”.