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worked firmly and tirelessly to make that day,

12 June 1985, a reality. That is why today is a

day of celebration. An important day, because

the symbols, though invisible, weigh a lot.”

Enduring benefits

The commissioner then discussed how, despite

the ease to reflect on the difficulties Europe

continued to face, particularly after the financial

and economic crisis, this was a time to

celebrate the lasting benefits of the Union.

“It is human nature to emphasise what is wrong

and what is to be done … it is this

dissatisfaction that motivates us. We also know

that this natural tendency is now marked by the

economic crisis we went through, perhaps the

most serious post-war. But this pessimism –

both natural and circumstantial – should be

mitigated on days like this, when we celebrate

the success of one of the most complex

collective projects ever undertaken.”

Lasting peace

Moedas said that the EU had achieved three

major aims that could be considered

“extraordinary and improbable”, namely “peace

between the European nations, economic

prosperity and freedom to millions of Europeans

who lived under dictatorship”, with Portugal

itself being one of them. He also turned his

attention to one of the lasting benefits of the EU

– peace between its member states.

“This success was not just the genius of its

founders and the thousands of people who did

and do the day to day activities of the Union –

although there was in fact genius and ingenuity.

It is mainly due to the clear notion that the

Europeans had the alternative of horror. The

alternative of constant war and total war

between the European nations. That’s why on

days like this – on days of celebration – it is

important to think about the alternative. About


1985, Portugal signed the documents paving the way for

the former dictatorship to accede to the EU. On the 30th

anniversary of the signing, the country’s current European

Commissioner responsible for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos

Moedas, addressed a high level, wide-ranging audience in the capital of

Lisbon on the what he called ‘invisible benefits’ of EU membership.

Speaking to delegates in May, Moedas declared the day as a “symbolic

celebration of the European project, but also the accession of Portugal”.

He then cited the thoughts of the then Portuguese prime minister Mário

Soares, quoting: ‘I believe that the document … without exaggeration

can be considered as one of the most significant moments of

contemporary Portuguese history, constituting at the same time for

Europe … a decisive step in confidence in itself’.

The commissioner said Soares’s thoughts had been proved “absolutely

right”. He then drew attention to how former prime minister José Manuel

Barroso had served as president of the European Commission, and this

had been an event that “none of us imagined” 30 years ago when the

document was signed.

Yet it was not just political leaders that warranted gratitude, Moedas

said. Public officials had also been playing an important role behind

closed doors.

“Looking back, all of us … feel an enormous gratitude for the political

leaders in different fields, but also by anonymous civil servants who


H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L


N AT I O N A L F O C U S : P O R T U G A L

Invisible Europe

On the 30th anniversary of Portugal’s signatory to accede to the EU,


carries the thoughts of the country’s European Commissioner

Carlos Moedas

on the invisible benefits of the EU

Speaking on Europe

Day, Carlos Moedas

defined Erasmus,

competition policy

and research

and innovation as

three enduring

EU achievements