EU must not forget alliances with continents beyond US - Portuguese President

The European Union must not forget about alliances with continents beyond the one it has with the US, according to the President of Portugal.

In a speech to MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa argued that having allies in different places is key, including new political and trade agreements around the world.

"The European Union cannot forget, or leave frozen, due to futile self-interest, the partnerships and agreements with fundamental continents for the EU, such as Africa, Latin America and in some aspects with Asia," the Portuguese president said on Wednesday.

"It cannot postpone something that in some time will only lead to more problems, namely in migration and in the role of Europe in the world. National self-interest must give in to EU values."

He also discussed with the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, about EU election dates.

De Sousa says that convincing people to go to polling stations could be challenging when the election date falls on a weekend just before a national holiday, with many preferring leisure activities.

Celebrating its national day on June 10, Portugal is the only member state against the proposed election date of 6-9 June 2024.

Metsola said she is willing to help get the necessary unanimity.

"I know this is not an ideal weekend for Portugal," she told reporters at a press conference.

"I know that this is an issue in several countries - every weekend presents a particular difficulty, so what we will have to do - while we are still waiting for official confirmation of the date - is to encourage as many people as possible to vote."

If there is no unanimous agreement on another date, Portugal may change its tradition of Sunday elections and use the possibility of an early vote.