7 March 2022

Ukraine continues to dominate the national media as Portugal looks to increase its defence spending. Outlets report PSD leader Rui Rio called on the government to reduce its tax on fuel and to be prepared to talk to Russia, PCP leader Jerónimo de Sousa distanced his party from the regime in Russia while continuing to blame the west for the war in Ukraine and Rui Tavares was elected leader of Livre.

Expresso, Público and CNN PT report from a PCP rally in Lisbon at which party leader Jerónimo de Sousa complained of a “new anti-communist campaign” as he distanced his party from the government of “capitalist Russia”, while claiming Russia’s “military intervention” in Ukraine appeared “more and more as a response to the crisis into which the capitalist system has plunged” and the result of the “intensification of the warmongering escalation of the USA, NATO and the European Union”, adding that the “PCP is on the side of peace, not war”. Lusa adds that Jerónimo used the occasion to accuse the Socialist Party (PS) of preparing to use its parliamentary majority to row back on worker’s rights in favour of the interests of business.

Lusa and CNN PT carry a Lusa report from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Madeira conference in Funchal at the weekend at which party leader Rui Rio (pictured) argued the government “is making money” from rising oil prices, adding that “it is imperative” that it lower taxes to reduce its “brutal tax burden” on fuel while also accusing PM Costa of not keeping the promise he made “when he increased the tax on fuel and said that when the price of crude rose, he would lower taxes”, adding that “the price of crude has already gone up and he hasn’t lowered the tax”. Reporting from the same conference, RTP cites Rio saying that in addition to supporting sanctions on the Russian economy, Portugal must keep the door open to dialogue with Moscow, otherwise he believes the country could suffer “brutal consequences”.

RTP and Expresso note that Rui Tavares was elected leader of Livre at its party conference in Coimbra this weekend, following which the MP restated his party’s desire to engage with other left-wing parties in the pursuit of unity and growth.

RTP reports that Portugal is set to follow the European example and increase its annual defence spending from 1.5% of GDP (~€3.2 billion) as a consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Público and DN expand on a Lusa report that the Government has invited its social partners “to an urgent meeting of social concertation” on Tuesday to monitor and discuss the crisis situation in Ukraine.

Lusa reports a claim by the National Association of Fuel Retailers that the measures announced by the Government to mitigate the “enormous increase” in forecourt prices are insufficient, stating the only “definitive solution” is to reduce the “extremely heavy tax burden” on the retail price of petrol and diesel. This statement came as RTP reports the highest-ever single rise in the retail price of petrol and diesel prices, with the announcement that the price of a litre of diesel is to rise by €0.16 and petrol by €0.10, which has led to a wave of panic buying, leaving many petrol stations out of fuel. 

Negócios reports that the price of benchmark Brent crude for European imports rose as much as 18% to $139.13 a barrel, giving the first signs of a market reaction to the prospect of the US and the European Union banning Russian oil imports. CNN PT adds that while a barrel of oil now costs the same as it did in 2014, the retail cost of a litre of diesel costs €0.49 more than it did then, with tax accounting for most of the €1.90 price tag.

Dinheiro Vivo reports that the Coronavirus pandemic has sent freight container prices soaring by 1,000% and has exacerbated logistical bottlenecks, with even the most optimistic of national operators fearing the situation will not begin to stabilise before 2023.

Público carries a statement by the country’s former energy regulator Jorge Vasconcelos, who says Europe must act make to changes to wholesale natural gas markets to avoid the price volatility that has extended to electricity prices reaching record levels. This intervention comes as Expresso and Dinheiro Vivo report OMIE (the operator that manages the Iberian electricity market) data showing the price of electricity in the Iberian market reached a new historical maximum of €442.54 per MWh at the weekend, rising to €500 in today’s peak hours of 8am, 9am and 8pm.

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