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Portugal is on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula and is the westernmost country of mainland Europe. The country has one land border with Spain to the north and east and has a long coastline with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. In addition to continental Portugal, the country includes the archipelagos of Azores and Madeira, which are autonomous regions of the country.
The most important sectors of Portugal’s economy in 2012 were wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (25.0 %) and public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (19.5 %) and industry (18.7 %)
Portugal’s main export and import partners are Spain, France and Germany.
Geographical size: 92 211.9 km2
Population: 10 542 398 (2012)
Population as % of total EU population: 2.1 % (2012)
GDP: € 165.107 billion (2012)
Official EU language(s): Portuguese
Political system: semi-presidential republic
EU member country since: 1 January 1986
Seats in the European Parliament: 21
Currency: Eurozone member since 1 January 1999
Passport-free travel? Yes, Schengen Area member since 25 June 1991
Presidency of the Council: Portugal has held the revolving presidency of the Council of the EU 3 times between 1992 and 2007.
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Portuguese government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like e.g. the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Portuguese presidencies:
Jan-Jun 1992 | Jan-Jun 2000 | Jul-Dec 2007
More on the current presidency of the Council of the EU.
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
Portugal has 12 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
Portugal has 12 representatives on the Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Portugal also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representation in Brussels. As Portugal's "embassy to the EU", its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Member countries' financial contributions to the EU budget are shared fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa. The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather to focus on the needs of all Europeans as a whole.
Breakdown of Portugal’s finances with the EU in 2012:
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
The money paid into the EU budget by Portugal helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Portugal benefits from EU funding.