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Posted by portugalpress on June 21, 2018

There comes a point in any difficult situation when the only way to surmount it is to reframe it in a positive light. Typically, those people who think of challenging situations as opportunities for change are the ones who find the most reward. In many cases, this is the only way to move forward and it is no different if you were a committed “Remainer” and have now had to face up to the reality and seeming inevitability of Brexit.

This is why it was very encouraging to hear Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa speaking last month about Brexit as an opportunity for the country to refortify and refashion its centuries-old relationship with Britain. The two countries are sometimes referred to as the “world’s oldest allies” on account of the 1386 Treaty of Windsor; a diplomatic alliance Winston Churchill referred to in a 1943 House of Commons speech as an alliance “without parallel in world history”.

While speaking at a Bloomberg-hosted event in London which focused on harnessing increased British investment in Portugal, Prime Minister Costa expressed his optimism about the country’s ties with Britain in the post-Brexit environment.

The news is likely to be extremely welcome amongst British expats in Portugal who may still be uncertain of what the future might hold and whether the economic relationship between the two countries will continue to develop in a way that reflects mutual interests. The sentiment of Prime Minister Costa’s comments could certainly help to build a renewed confidence.

Far from being seen as a burden or a setback, he said, the conundrums presented by Brexit could be “transformed into an opportunity for both countries to deepen their special relationships, both on a political and economic level”.

“What is important now is to minimise the negative consequences of Brexit and to develop a relationship which is as close as possible with the United Kingdom,” he added.

Early indications are that this process of renewal and opportunity is already underway. Figures released at the event revealed British investment in Portugal in 2017 to be worth €758 million, a rise of 427% on the previous year. The figures place the UK fourth in the world for investment in Portugal and second in Europe. Although this dramatic rise reflects an obvious strengthening of the economic relationship, it must also be noted that it is consistent with increased global interest in the Portuguese economy, much of which is being driven by investment-friendly taxation and a Lisbon-led boom in construction and tech start-ups.

However, it is on an individual and personal level that expats in Portugal are likely to take the most comfort from Prime Minster Costa’s recent interactions with Theresa May. While engaged in more wide-ranging talks, which encompassed the two countries’ mutual security and defence interests, Costa said that he would be making the residence rights of British expats living in Portugal an absolute priority.

This will come as a huge relief and, in reality, it is hard to envisage any other kind of relationship between the two countries; and it is telling that Costa made reference to the Treaty of Windsor during his speech. In fact, the legacy of the treaty feels more profound and pertinent than ever before. Its terms included provisions for guaranteeing the mutual security of the two countries, a framework for strengthening economic ties and, crucially, the clauses that encouraged freedom of movement and settlement between the subjects of either country, and there is every indication that, between them, prime ministers Costa and May will sustain the spirit of a treaty that today is nearly 700 years-old.

According to the República Portuguesa transcription of the Prime Minister’s speech given in London on April 10, Costa described Portugal as fertile ground for UK investment. “When businesses open in Portugal, they can have a two-in-one, Brexit in the UK and Remain in the EU by investing in Portugal.”

Prime Minister Costa made special mention of the part that UK expats in Portugal and British tourists play in boosting economic and cultural life in the country. Based on these comments and sentiments alone, it seems that UK investment, UK pension income and UK nationals themselves will continue to be welcomed into Portugal with open arms post-Brexit and beyond.

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By Manuela Robinson

Manuela Robinson is the Joint-Country Manager of Blacktower in Portugal. With offices in Quinta do Lago, Cascais and representation in Madeira.
info@blacktowerfm.com | 289 355 685
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