Portugal has held the Presidency of the Council on three separate occasions: 1992, 2000, and 2007. These terms correspond to different phases in the European integration process and to different Portuguese positions with respect to European integration. In the three contexts, this article analyses the presidencies on three different levels: the definition of their political programmes and priorities, the organization of the diplomatic machinery and the management of various dossiers, and an assessment of the results obtained, from the perspective of Portuguese foreign policy and in terms of its impact on the European process. The article argues that in the case of a small- or medium-sized power such as Portugal, the presidential term has an even greater relevance: firstly, because (in contrast to its significance for larger powers) the presidency represents a unique opportunity to influence, if not to lead, the European agenda; and secondly, because at certain moments in negotiations, weakness can be a strength, meaning that a small power might more easily achieve agreement and consensus among the great powers.
- Council of the European Union
- Foreign policy