SPAIN AND Portugal are to create a Security and Defence Council in a bid to combat illegal immigration and to fight terrorism.
The decision to set up the council was made at the end of a successful two-day bi-lateral summit in Badajoz on the Portuguese-Spanish border.
The move is seen as a positive signal of the current friendly climate that exists between the two countries on a range of international security and economic issues.
The working model of what form the new council will take will be ironed out at next year’s summit in Braga.
At a press conference on November 25, at the University of Extremadura, Prime Minister José Sócrates said: “The council has yet to be defined in its details and it is early days yet, but the experiences that the two countries already have in these areas will serve as the base.”
Sócrates went on to say that the new model of bi-lateral co-operation would reflect an undeniable reality. “We know that in order to compete better in the international market we must stand together and we understand that it is not simply enough to show a willingness to stand together, but a willingness to do things together,” he said.
For this reason, Sócrates and Spanish Prime Minister, Rodriguez Zapatero underlined the importance for European security to include the Middle East on the European agenda.
Zapatero said that even though there might not be victims of terrorism on the Iberian Peninsular at the moment, it was worth making the best efforts possible to put a stop to terrorism.
The co-operation will also look at new measures to combat illegal immigration, by stepping up joint operations at respective airports and ports of entry, with an exchange of cross border and immigration specialist forces and stricter vigilance over documentation checks.
• Portugal, Spain, South America and the United States are to set up a joint Tourism Commission to promote tourism on the Iberian Peninsular.
• In the short term, the two governments have agreed to allow energy operators access to oil and gas reserves on both national territories.
• The two countries have signed a protocol enabling joint fire-fighting ventures along the frontiers between the two countries to fight summer forest fires with shared resources.
• The TGV high-speed rail link between Lisbon and Madrid, which will be operating by 2013, “not only integrates the two countries but is a strategic objective,” said Sócrates. The TGV between Madrid and Badajoz will be operational by 2010.