Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Miguel Portas: Moscow and Brussels need solid agreements and not a new cold war

1. How do you see the current economic crisis and what policies would lead to the resolution of the same?

Actually, what we have in Portugal is a new crisis on top of an old crisis. The country was already in crisis before the crash of the stock markets. Between 2002 and 2008, unemployment had almost trebled and the purchasing power of wages had been in continuous decline. Now, we have to resolve both crises at the same time. They will not disappear with the medicines that have caused them. Not even with the leaders who must answer for them. We need new priorities, new policies and new politicians.

2. For you, what are the priorities for Portugal in the near future?

The most urgent is to protect the purchasing power of wages. It is not just a question of justice. If wages are not defended in Europe and in the USA, consumption will decrease drastically and the entire worldwide economy is going to suffer, starting with the countries that export raw materials and consumer goods.

How can we defend the purchasing power of wages? Obtaining wage increases above inflation, refusing the insecurity of contracts and insisting on the radical drop of interest rates, particularly for the most disadvantaged social classes.

We also have to defend jobs. This means that the State must return to the economy, investing in works and projects that qualify our economies (savings).

.3. For what reason has the socio-economic indicators for Portugal tended to show a constant decrease, resulting in this country being practically at the bottom of all the charts of the E.U.?

There are ancient reasons for that. Portugal was unable to capitalize on European funds as it should. Others have done it much better than us. Portugal has based its economic growth on low wages and on tax evasion. The reason why the countries of Eastern Europe will eventually recover more quickly from their impediments than our country has to do with the fact that workers have much higher levels of qualification than that of the Portuguese. Here the first difficulty resides. The second is common to the countries of the east: the elites live off of the benefits that the State provides them. We have states and governments that protect those who should not be protected and those who need protection are forgotten.

4. Do you think that the European Union in general understood what happened in the Georgia/South Ossetia crisis?

Some realized more than others. The most pro-American governments of the EU did not understand anything at all, because they do not understand anything from history and only NATO interests them. Therefore they kicked off a conflict that left them bored. Others know that in Europe destinies are linked and that it makes no sense to repeat ancient fractures. Moscow and Brussels need solid agreements and not a new cold war. The first major test to the new American administration will be the suspension of the antí-missile system known as "Star Wars" planned for Poland and for the Czech Republic. I sincerely hope that it does not go forward. The policy should address the good of the people and not the arms dealers.

5. Do you think that the Engineer Jose Socrates (Portuguese PM) has done anything positive in the last four years? From zero to ten, what would be the number that you would attribute to him?

Since I am generous, perhaps two or three...

Miguel Portas

Euro Deputy of the left-wing block

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Director and Chief Editor

Portuguese version