Britain, Brexit, and Portuguese foreign policy: opportunity or challenge?

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Portuguese foreign policy (FP) has relied for centuries on the alliance with Britain. Most recently, both internal and international issues led to some detachment between the two: favouring the alliance with the US; the loss of the empire(s); the fascist regime in Portugal, until 1974; EU membership. Nevertheless, Portugal never stopped, implicitly or explicitly, to follow Britain on many (most?) FP decisions and stances (quite visibly on a share understanding of the European integration process and dynamics: the rejection of a French-German axis, favouring unanimity versus majority vote, rejecting deeper integration on FP issues, preferring an intergovernmental structure with veto power, …). In this paper, we analyse the challenges Portuguese FP is facing on three different levels: firstly, in the bilateral relations with the UK (where trade and migration are prevalent concerns over Brexit); secondly, regarding Portugal in the world, focusing on the EU integration process and NATO; and thirdly, exploring any possible opportunities available to Portugal, to strengthen its role in the international arena. We will also explore any statements or opinions issued by both scholars or diplomats, interested in linking a generic/theoretical approach with more specific and tangible strategies decision-makers and official representatives of the Portuguese state can engage with.

Keywords: Portuguese foreign policy; Brexit; bilateral relations; European politics; international relations

Pedro Ponte e Sousa | Instituto Português de Relações Internacionais (IPRI-NOVA)

Pedro Ponte e Sousa is a PhD candidate in Global Studies. Department of Political Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, New University of Lisbon (FCSH-UNL). Researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations (IPRI).