Martin Schulz at the ceremony in Portugal © Jorge Ferreira/PM 

European Parliament President Martin Schulz was in Portugal on Friday 8 January, where he joined the event marking the 30th anniversary of the country's 1986 accession to the EU, then called the European Economic Community. “Thirty years later, we can honestly say that Portugal's EU membership has been an enormous success,” he said at the ceremony in Lisbon.

“Portugal has actively participated in the consolidation of the European project,” President Schulz said at the ceremony in the Jerònimos Monastery where the Treaty of Accession was signed in June 1985. “From the Carnation Revolution [that brought democracy back to Portugal in 1974] to the Lisbon Treaty, the relationship between the European Union and Portugal has been mutually enriching," he said. "The Portuguese brought with them a wealth of experience and history, the universality of their language and culture. Your bonds of friendship with other corners of the world are an asset for the foreign relations of our community."

We need a better Europe


“The last years have been tough, very tough for many Portuguese as the country went through, and then exited, the bail-out programme at a heavy social and economic cost," Schulz said. “And yet Portugal and its people did not turn their back on Europe. Portugal has understood that together we are stronger. You are true European because you know we need Europe. But for sure we need another Europe. We need a better Europe."

Global challenges, the EP President said, cannot be solved by nation states on their own without “more European cooperation”.

Schulz participated in the ceremony at the invitation of Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa. During its visit, he also met the president of the Portuguese National Assembly, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues.

Portugal and Spain joined the then European Economic Community on 1 January 1986 bringing the member states to 12. Our infographic, accessible from the links to the right, gives an overview of EU enlargment over the years.