Portugal and Spain celebrate 20 years as EU members.jpg

Portugal and Spain celebrate 20 years as EU members

PORTUGAL AND Spain celebrated 20 years of membership to the European Union this year. To mark the occasion, the Portuguese State Mint, Casa da Moeda, and the Spanish Real Casa de la Moneda issued two special commemorative 10-euro coins struck in solid sterling silver.

The Portuguese Secretary of State for European Union Affairs, Fernando d’Oliveira Neves, joined his Spanish counterpart, Alberto Navarro, in the capital to mark the event. The official visit was followed by a dinner offered by the European Union representatives in Portugal at the office of the European Parliament in Lisbon.

During the visit, the delegations held bilateral meetings at the Palácio Cova da Moura where current themes on the European agenda were discussed, namely the free movement of workers within the EU, financial perspectives for the period between 2007 and 2013, the EU Constitutional Treaty and Portugal’s forthcoming presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2007.

Both ministers said that the entry of Portugal and Spain into the EU on January 1, 1986 had strengthened the links between the two nations, which share a common vision in the development of the so-called Great European Project.

Alberto Navarro said that never before had relations between the two countries been as close in terms of shared political goals and economic ties. He said that, 20 years ago, when both countries had signed up for the EU, the idea that one day they would share a common currency unit had been “unthinkable”.

Fernando Neves said: “This coin symbolises the closeness of the two countries, working together within the EU over the past 20 years. It also represents the complicated economic and financial convergences that both Spain and Portugal share as members of the single currency.

“The EU membership has been overwhelmingly positive for Spain and Portugal, members of a united and peaceful Europe, within an integrated common project. In 1986, Portugal and Spain stepped forward towards the European Union dream. For Portugal, that membership was essential for the development and survival of democracy. The EU has been the best example of international integration in the history of humanity.

“Today, we belong to a true political and economic community which shares values and common objectives. But now is an important time to reflect on the role of the EU and its future objectives. The dialogue between governments and civil entities is vitally important and we need to determine how to meet the challenges of an ever changing and increasingly globalised world,” he added.

The Portuguese and Spanish coins share a common reverse depicting a bridge symbolising the links between the two countries and the rest of Europe. The obverse depicts the head of King Juan Carlos of Spain for the Spanish coin and the symbols of the national flag of Portugal for the Portuguese edition. One hundred copies of the coins have been struck and 4,000 limited proof editions have been produced in special boxes.