EU commission not happy with Portugal's budget

Portugal's government has adopted its draft budget for 2016 - without waiting for the European Commission's findings. The commissioners deem many of the new socialist minority government's prognoses too optimistic. Will this be the start of another row over the austerity policy?

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Jornal de Negócios (PT) /

Hopes of tax burden being eased fade

Following the approval of the budget and the criticism it elicited in Brussels the liberal business daily Jornal de Negócios is very cautious in its optimism:

“The government is giving with one hand and taking with the other. In the end the tax burden will remain as high as in 2015. But one thing changes: now the burden will be more equally distributed. … The not so good news came even before the confrontation with Brussels: the deficit will be smaller than expected but the promise to reduce the tax burden is clearly passé. ... And the economy will grow less than expected. Prime Minister Costa and the left-wing parties can blame the 'liberals in Brussels' for this. But despite everything one must bear in mind that the cutbacks are not as harsh as those made by the previous government. ”

Expresso (PT) /

Avoid overly provoking Brussels

Adopting an arrogant stance vis-à-vis the EU commission is counter-productive, the liberal weekly Expresso writes:

“The government has taken a dangerous path with its draft budget. Naturally it has the right to fight for the implementation of the measures it wants and to compel Brussels to make compromises. … But to take this game to extremes is very risky - particularly at a time when there is no room for retreat and we continue to rely on external financing. … The rating agencies, the EU commission and the Public Finance Council: the list of addresses that have voiced warnings and concern is long.”

Público (PT) /

Lisbon must show more self-confidence

The liberal daily Público criticises Brussels' stubbornness and calls on the new Socialist government to make Portugal's voice heard:

“Brussels continues to insist on an extremely opaque and unscrupulous schedule, and is acting as if nothing had changed in Lisbon. It wants to give the impression that it was unaware of the major errors that have been committed in the so-called adjustment programmes. ... Brussels must admit that the will of the Portuguese counts - and that there is a pre-4 October 2015 [parliamentary elections] and a post-4 October 2014. A government that refuses to stand up for its sovereignty not only betrays the voters, it also helps make itself a caricature of democracy.”