Portugal and UK Bilateral deal signed for defence, security, policing, trade

– London, (Lusa)

The joint Portuguese-British declaration signed on Monday in London by prime ministers Boris Johnson and António Costa provides for a new convention to avoid double taxation in trade and a bilateral agreement in the area of defence.

Portugal and the United Kingdom will “deepen cooperation in defence matters by concluding negotiations and signing a new bilateral defence agreement,” the joint Portuguese-British declaration highlights in the chapter on security.

The document also highlights the area of cooperation in criminal investigation and has a reference to the current international situation with Portugal and the United Kingdom committing to strengthen “peace and security in Europe, including through coordination in support of Ukraine and in response to Russian aggression.

“As democracies in the 21st century that share the same values, we are determined to work together as part of a wide network that defends freedom and democracy, free trade, human rights and the rule of law,” reads the introductory part of the document signed by Boris Johnson and António Costa.

From a political and geostrategic point of view, Portugal and the United Kingdom retain a commitment to collective defence through the Atlantic Alliance.

“We will work together to strengthen NATO’s long-term defensive posture and to ensure that the Atlantic Alliance has a wide network of partnerships aimed at strengthening security, enabling it to address all Euro-Atlantic security threats. We will deepen our diplomatic and security and defence cooperation, strengthening our joint capacity to overcome current and future threats to our security,” the joint statement said.

In the area of policing, Portugal and the UK will cooperate “in specialised areas of serious and organised crime, such as drug trafficking, terrorism and cybercrime”.

“Maximise opportunities for sharing experience and good practice, including through possible cooperation/training protocols between the Special Police Unit (SDU) and UK counterparts” and “explore opportunities to intensify bilateral cooperation on policing and criminal justice”, are other objectives identified in this area.

The two countries also signed bilateral agreements “on national security and sharing information on immigration, arms, ammunition and explosives, and possible opportunities for cooperation projects in the area of defence.

From the trade point of view, in addition to the convention to avoid double taxation, the governments of London and Lisbon want to “share information on trade and investment flows at the bilateral level, as well as on existing barriers.

In this sector, the objectives have been defined as bringing together Portugal’s Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP) and the British Department for International Trade (DIT), in order to promote the best possible conditions for business operators in both countries.

“Supporting greater involvement between non-governmental actors, such as business confederations, chambers of commerce and business associations in specific relevant sectors,” and “working together to promote the economic security of the two countries and that of our partners, including through a joint effort to strengthen energy security and promote the resilience and diversity of supply chains for critical goods and materials,” are other points provided for in this agreement.

The document also presents a part about British residents in Portugal and Portuguese in the United Kingdom, underlining “the strong ties that unite the two peoples”.

“First and foremost, through the significant communities of our diasporas, but also encompassing joint research projects, close links in higher education, business links and significant tourism flows. The exchange of people and ideas is at the heart of our partnership and should be valued and supported,” it added.

António Costa said that Portugal and the United Kingdom had signed a joint declaration on bilateral cooperation that is the broadest in terms of sectors covered of all the European Union’s member states.

António Costa took this position after being received by the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, at number 10 Downing Street, in London, a meeting which lasted about 45 minutes and which was also attended by Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs, João Gomes Cravinho.

“This joint declaration will be key to relaunching the oldest alliance that exists globally after Brexit. It was among the first that member states signed and it is perhaps the one that covers the most topics, from the areas of defence, research, through investment, trade, to technologies, digital transition and renewable energies,” the leader of the Portuguese executive told journalists.

Portugal’s prime minister also stressed that he was “separating the waters” between bilateral relations with the UK and the post-Brexit differences between London and Brussels over Northern Ireland, in which he supports the European Union.

Asked at the exit of a meeting with British counterpart Boris Johnson at the official residence in Downing Street about tensions between the European Union (EU) and the UK, Costa said he had conveyed the Portuguese position.

“We have parted the waters. The negotiation between the EU and the UK is led by the Commission, and we give the Commission our full support.

The British government has no doubts about this,” he told reporters.

However, he argued that “within the scope of the agreements and disagreements within the EU, there is room to develop the bilateral relationship”.

The prime minister said that Portugal “cannot waste” the old Luso-British alliance, the oldest in the world, to “put itself in a position to be able to monetise that”.

“We focus on what has to do with bilateral relations, which, regardless of conflicts and convergences between the United Kingdom and the EU, can be established in a bilateral way between Portugal and the United Kingdom,” he stressed.

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