European Union

   In 1978, Portugal began accession negotiations with the EU. In January 1986, along with Spain, Portugal joined that organization. Since joining the EU, Portugal's economy has received many benefits: loans, grants, technical assistance, and other economic, social, and educational advantages that are worth billions of dollars. Most of Portugal's trade is with EU members, and Portugal's economy is tied now to EU plans and planning, standards and rules, and philosophy. Starting in January 1993, by previous agreement, all EU tariff barriers for many goods (excluding agricultural goods until 1995-96, in Portugal's case) were removed, and there is concern in Portugal that many small and medium-sized businesses (which are the norm) will not survive the new competition from richer member state. Next to Greece, Portugal remains the poorest, least-developed EU member state, and there is anxiety in Lisbon that, following new pressures for the EU to give massive assistance to former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe and to allow them in time to join the EU, Portugal will be at a disadvantage. Despite complaints about the bureaucracy inherent in the EU, many Portuguese value the connection and acknowledge that Portugal has benefited from EU technical assistance, networking, loans, and grants. In 1999, Portugal joined the European Monetary Union (EMU) and, in January 2000, adopted the euro. This has helped Portugal stabilize its currency and financial connections. In 2004, José Durão Barroso, a Portuguese politician, was elected President of the Commission of the European Union.
   See Economy; Currency.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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