In the preparatory debate for the European Council meeting on Thursday and Friday, António Costa said that, at that summit, one of the main themes will be the enlargement of the European Union (EU), noting that the Government's position on this matter “is quite clear".

The head of the executive reiterated that “all enlargement processes must be evaluated based on merit and in accordance with the assessment made by the European Commission”.

“If the European Commission understands that a new step must be taken towards opening negotiations with Ukraine, Portugal follows the European Commission and will support progress in Ukraine’s European integration process”, he highlighted.

However, the prime minister stressed that “it is not possible to disconnect” Ukraine's EU enlargement process from the candidacies of the Western Balkan countries, recalling that, last week, he made an official visit to Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro, in which this was precisely a central theme.

“For everyone, we understand that it is necessary and possible to take steps forward with a view to the enlargement process”, he maintained.

Portugal added Costa, “has a great advantage” in dialogue with the countries of that region, taking into account that, due to “geographical distance, history, and cultural reasons”, it is not “the godfather of any of the Western Balkan countries ” and looks “at everyone with equal objectivity”.

“And therefore, we can be honest and frank partners in identifying difficulties, but also in providing political, technical and financial support to seek to overcome these difficulties,” he said.

Anticipating a “long and difficult” European Council meeting, which will probably not end on Friday”, Costa nevertheless expressed hope that the summit would result in “a commitment from the EU to the expectations it created for Ukraine and the Western Balkan countries.”

This “results from a political and moral imperative, but also from a correct reading of the geopolitical challenges facing the EU”, he argued.