Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, made his pitch today at the Cities Forum 2020 in Portugal's 2nd-largest city hosted, which hosted the annual European Commission event this year. His speech regarded the possibility of a formal union of the two Iberian countries, be it in one way or another.
"For dozens of years we turned our backs on each other, there was a tremendous mistrust. Happily, that reality no longer exists today," he told the EFE news agency. "We speak a language that is not the same, yet we understand each other; we have an Ibero-American space that is essential to both countries; what's left to do is to work on building Iberolux."
Yet one must consider why this hasn’t been considered in the past. There is no doubt that Portugal and Spain share similar aims and struggles, however they are two vastly differently countries from a socioeconomic, cultural, and political viewpoint.
A similar pact to what Mr. Moreira is putting on the table has been made in the past between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, creating the Benelux customs union in 1944, and this politico-economic union seems to have fared rather well. However, while the idea of a Spanish-Portuguese union has been around for centuries, there has been a lack of political will, or demand among voters to push for the topic to enter the mainstream. Only the Iber party in Castilla La Mancha has called for a union and they failed miserably at the 2015 elections.
Mr. Moreira added that he believes that the EU is “alive and in good health” and is ready for new ideas such Iberolux. He pointed to the already-fluid border between Galicia and Extremedura, and Portugal. The two Spanish regions already teach thousands of their schoolchildren Portuguese. "It's one more argument in favour of the creation of Iberolux," said Mr. Moreira.
Is this suggestion coming at the right time? Some may argue that with the ever more apparent nationalistic cracks that are beginning to form across Europe, taking power further away from the people and balancing it at the pinnacle of a higher and more distant tower isn’t likely to garner much of a following in the coming years.