Portugal is an EU and Euro member with a population of 10.5M. Portugal is one of the “PIIGS” (along with Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) that are having severe debt and austerity problems caused by a lack of confidence in their ability to service their huge financial burdens.
Portugal is relatively uncompetitive within the EU. They benefited from inflows and subsidies from the EU over the years and used it to raise living standards and develop a large and expensive public sector.
One advantage Portugal does have is their connections to former “empire” countries that also speak Portuguese including Angola and Brazil. These countries, while they have their own very significant problems, are not shackled with the anti-competitive rules and regulations that burden companies in the EU. While Portuguese citizens are not at the top of the education group in EU terms, in Angolan or Brazilian (general) terms they are very well educated and can assist multi-nationals taking advantage of the natural resources that Angola and Brazil are blessed with.
In this context, when asked what young people should do when faced with high unemployment, this article the conservative prime minister told them to “just emigrate”.
While many thought that his comments were not appropriate, there are few avenues for ambitious young people since the gravy train of EU subsidies is drying up and EU labor policies make it very difficult for companies to remove redundant staff in order to make room for more productive and cost compeititive new graduates.
This is a practical, if sad, solution to the problem of a non-competitive state which is forced to support the high cost and social benefits of the EU. It also perfectly crystalizes the “fixed pie” view of the left – keep jobs and barriers high for those that have them, and watch as the nation slowly loses competitiveness, falling hardest on those newest to the work force.
It is a blessing to the former colonies, however, who will receive the youngest, most productive and aggressive citizens who can make their fortune overseas rather than waiting in line (in vain) for a spot in the bureaucratic system.
Cross posted at LITGM