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2023-02-08 at 15h32

Portugal and Spain must join efforts to produce and process lithium

Prime Minister António Costa at the closing session of the Forum La Toja – Atlantic Scale, Lisbon, 8 February 2023

Prime Minister António Costa claimed that "Portugal and Spain have a major opportunity for cross-border cooperation because both countries jointly possess the largest reserves of a natural resource that is fundamental for electric mobility in the coming years: lithium".

While giving a speech at the closing session of the Fórum La Toja special edition, held in Lisbon, António Costa said that "more than competing for each one to have their battery factory and each one their own refinery, we should develop together a strategy to jointly enhance a resource that, even though this is the largest European reserve, it is still not enough and will always imply importing more lithium to create a sustainable battery production factory".

The Prime Minister noted that "we have a huge advantage in working together" in mining and processing lithium, as well as speeding up the energy interconnections between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe, as we are having with the Iberian mechanism in force to decouple gas and electricity prices.

Another contribution

António Costa claimed that Portugal and Spain can "offer a relevant contribution" for the Latin American and African countries to pay more attention to the war triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"Portugal and Spain have an advantage over many other European countries. Being European, we know the world and have a wider horizon than those who live in an enclave between mountains," he claimed, adding that "Europe must make an effort to be humble and understand that in this global world it needs to try harder to make friends".

António Costa said that "if Europe had moved forward swifter in the Mercosul negotiations, our Mercosul partners would probably have a more assertive understanding of the times we are living in Europe".

The Prime Minister showed himself hopeful with regard to the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of this year, that "it will give a strong impetus to conclude the Mercosul agreement".

"The window of opportunity is quite short because President Lula da Silva has clearly stated Brazil intends to close the agreement; the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, says the same. So, it is now time to understand that here is no pound of beef produced in Europe that would justify continuing to lag the Mercosul deal – the trade agreement with the greatest economic significance that can contribute to a major transatlantic alliance", he underlined.

Refusing protectionism

António Costa also referred to the trade tensions with the United States, claiming the need for Europe to have greater strategic autonomy, yet refusing absolutely any "neo-protectionist discourse". 

And he refused above all "a new trade war", "especially with our greatest Atlantic ally, the United States, which at this moment is, more than ever, an alliance we must strengthen for our collective security and the world’s collective security, namely peace in Ukraine".

The European Council of 9 and 10 February "will have a great discussion on the competitiveness condition of European companies given the US response to the inflationist crisis. There are factors to correct in globalisation, but we cannot lose its major gain". 

"A continent such as Europe, that needs raw materials, that needs components, that needs markets for its exports, is the last continent to close in on itself and adopt a protectionist stance", he stated.

Prime minister