15 February 2022

Much of the media has picked up on the comments made by UN General Secretary and former PM António Guterres who met with the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Ukraine. Many outlets also note Portugal could be ready to send troops to the region as part of a NATO response force. Hopes are high that Covid restrictions may be relaxed. The “Saco Azul” case involving alleged payments from Benfica football club to the referee Bruno Paixão also features prominently.

CNN PT, Público and DN pick up a Lusa item on UN General Secretary Guterres’s meeting with the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine and his “deep concerns at the rising tensions and speculation about a possible military conflict in Europe”, saying war in Ukraine would be “disastrous”, adding “there is no alternative to diplomacy,” while offering his good offices to find a solution.

Público reports that Portugal could send more than 600 troops to NATO countries bordering Ukraine as part of a NATO Response Force. CNN PT, however, claims the Ministry of National Defence has said more than 1,000 Portuguese soldiers could be deployed for operations should a NATO multinational Very High Readiness Joint Task Force be activated to deal with a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government has confirmed that NATO can call on the resources allocated by Portugal to this task force “with a readiness of up to seven days”. Lusa quotes President Rebelo de Sousa who says that “unless there is an emergency”, the deployment of forces on military missions needs to receive “prior approval” from the Supreme Council of National Defence.

RTP and Expresso both report on President Rebelo de Sousa’s expectation that the country will enter a “new phase of transition from pandemic to endemic” and his confidence that Covid restrictions may be relaxed once the government takes stock of the situation at a meeting with experts at the National Authority for Medicines and Health Products (Infarmed). RTP quotes Gustavo Tato Borges, president of the National Association of Public Health Physicians who says that, given the downward trend in the number of infections, he is in no doubt it is possible to ease restrictions.

Expresso reports on the meeting between PM Costa and Slovenian President Borut Pahor, at which both leaders emphasised the friendship between the two EU and NATO member states. President Pahor, who is on an official visit to Portugal, was first received by President Rebelo de Sousa at the Palácio de Belém.

In the run-up to PM Costa announcing his new cabinet on 23 February and in the wake of the Socialist Women group asking Costa for “parity” in political decision-making positions, DN asks if the PM’s promised “smaller and leaner” government will result in fewer women in positions of authority.

Visão picks up a report from Lusa stating that G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Berlin announced they were ready to impose economic and financial sanctions with “massive and immediate consequences for the Russian economy” in the event of military aggression against Ukraine, adding that the “immediate priority” is to support efforts to defuse the tension created by the concentration of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders, but that “any further military aggression by Russia against Ukraine will be met with a swift and effective response”. It adds that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow today in yet another Western leader’s attempt to avoid armed conflict in Europe.

JN reports on a proposal by EW Portugal to install a 1 MW generator on the River Douro’s north breakwater to produce renewable energy from ocean waves as a pilot project for a period of 10 years.

Economia Online reports that fears of an imminent attack on Ukraine have increased market volatility, with investors fleeing equities and seeking refuge in debt. Natural gas and oil prices are sharply rising with the possibility that the supply of Russian gas to Europe will be completely interrupted for a long period in case of an attack on Ukraine, increasing the price of the raw material, with European gas benchmark prices rising 14% to €88 euros per MWh, the highest for this type of contract since 31 January, while the price of natural gas has risen about 15% so far this year.

Jornal Económico says escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia has increased the price of a barrel of oil to highs not seen since 2014, with Brent trading above $96 at a time when the European economy is struggling with the effects of the global energy crisis. The impact on inflation is the most evident and several governments have already expressed their concern with the possibility of further rises and the barrel reaching $100.

Jornal Económico notes that President Lagarde has restated inflation has so far shown no second-round effects on the European economy and that the ECB is keeping a close eye on the situation, although noting that rates will only rise after the pandemic emergency asset purchase programme is completed. She added that the eurozone is not “showing the signs of overheating that can be seen in other economies”.

Dinheiro Vivo features a report from the European Court of Auditors claiming energy taxation policies in the EU are not aligned with the union’s climate objectives, with 15 member states currently spending more on support for fossil fuels “than on subsidies for renewable energy”, and only 14  applying carbon taxes and asks if Portugal’s energy tax policies are aligned with the EU’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: