Your “Big Read” article of April 11 describes how Portugal is fast becoming the Brussels poster boy for “breaking free of austerity”. Having owned a house in the beautiful Douro Valley since 1983, I have followed the fortunes of this delightful nation, upfront, for more than three decades.
You observe that unemployment has halved to 6.7 per cent yet overlook the fact that, as you go on to report, during the recession “hundreds of thousands of mainly young, skilled workers, emigrated — a loss of more than 4 per cent of the working age population between 2008 and 2016”. In the village where our house is the streets used to be filled with locals out and about enjoying themselves. Now only stray dogs are left. The boss of the Symington Group (the owners of Dow, Graham, Warre and so on) told me that in his Douro village not a single child has been born in the last two years.
In reality, the only Portuguese industry that is growing rapidly is tourism, and that is because Brussels has channelled some of the surpluses of its northern member states into building superb roads, tunnels and bridges and subsidising the development of much-needed tourist facilities to the tune of 70 cents in the euro.
Penshurst, Kent, UK
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