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Portugal then and now, from an EU view

brussels bureau

Portugal then and now, from an EU view


A constantly modernising Europe has brought multiple concrete benefits to Portugal. When it joined the then European Community, at the same time as Spain in 1986, this made for a dozen members. The face of Portugal changed rapidly.

Leaving definitively behind 50 years of stagnation under a dictatorship, building boomed, and with it attitudes.

The head of the European Commission’s office in Lisbon, Margarida Marques, says: “You have to realise that at the time of adhesion there were only 120 kilometres of motorway. Today Portugal has 2,000km. It’s obvious that when people move around they notice the link with the European Union when they see all these little stars. You can call it a Portuguese success story. That doesn’t exclude that enormous progress remains to be made, notably with education and training.”

The school dropout rate is one of the country’s major failings. Only 56% of 15-24-year-olds finish high school and post secondary education. Outside influences have unarguably enlivened and enriched Portugal; Now part of the challenge remains finding a balance between erudition (and its application) and distraction.

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