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MIL OSI-C. Mediterranean Region: Portugal

The Government is working on a new consulate management model based on digitization and centralization that allows for consular support 24 hours a day and access to services from anywhere in the world.

In an interview with the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Portuguese State Secretary José Luís Carneiro said that this model prepares “consular services for the age of digitization” and is the result of the “modernization effort that has been made in the administration. Portuguese public service ‘.

The creation of Citizen Spaces in Paris, Brussels, Sao Paulo and London are some examples of these efforts but the idea is, as you said, “to go further”.

Emergency Offices and Single Act

“Providing the consular emergency office with the conditions of technological operability that allows, improving the monitoring of Portuguese who are abroad” – even those who are not registered in the consular posts – is one of the “fundamental axes” pointed out by the Secretary of State, who He said that about 70% of the Portuguese who leave today return to the country in periods of less than one year, being more mobile than emigration.

The other axis for the modernization of consular services relates to the ‘one-time act’ of consular registration which, according to José Luís Carneiro, aims to allow ‘any Portuguese going to a consular post anywhere in the world’ to be ‘in a centralized database in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so that citizens anywhere in the world can know their record of all their relationship with consular posts’.

For the Secretary of State, these measures will allow “a part of the services that are provided today in person, can be provided remotely using a mobile phone or computer”, as already happens with the renewal of the Citizen Card.

Under the name of e-Consulate, this model also provides for the centralization of telephone service in Lisbon, after digitization of all consulate processes, as well as the provision of the necessary human resources service.

«We have to have technicians prepared in several languages, we already have Spanish and English, and we will evolve into other languages. By 2020 it is planned to extend the Consular Center to other countries. Another requirement is this consular service center to act for all countries in different geographies and time zones, ”he said.

More than 400 emergencies attended abroad

Regarding emergency response, José Luís Carneiro said that during the last legislature, Portugal made more than 400 requests abroad.

«We live more than 400 crisis and emergency situations, from road and rail accidents, disappearances of citizens, visits to detainees … terrorist attacks …] and at all times, in the most difficult times, the Portuguese State was present to the people, ”said the Secretary of State, also praising the role of the services of the Directorate-General for Consular Affairs and of the Portuguese Communities and of officials of consulates and the network of honorary consuls of Portugal abroad.

In this context, he also highlighted the support of the deputies and advisers of the Portuguese communities, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister and the President himself:

Venezuela led to a «cross reading»

During the interview, José Luís Carneiro also mentioned the contribution of the crisis in Venezuela so that there is today, in Portugal, “a cross-sectional reading” of the issues affecting Portuguese emigrants.

“It was Venezuela that allowed us to have a reading at the highest level of public administration across the board today and that allows us to address the problem of migration more fully in terms of response,” he said.

Among the “exceptional measures” taken by the Government to respond to the flow of Portuguese who have left Venezuela and who still remain, the Secretary of State mentioned the exemption from the payment of consular costs, the sending of medicines and medical support network, the granting social support to the most needy or strengthening the registration and notary teams for the granting of Portuguese nationality.

Return Program

Venezuela has also largely inspired the “Return” program, which currently offers a set of incentives for the return of migrants to the country, including financial support of up to 6500 euros.

This program started in the second half of July and by September 1 there were 136 applications and 1658 requests for information.

“In a month and a half, when many Portuguese people take holidays in Portugal, we have had almost two thousand requests for information and we have already 111 beneficiaries from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil or Switzerland and Luxembourg shows a many Portuguese will to return to the country », stressed the Secretary of State.

Among those concerned are ‘a significant proportion’ of ‘more skilled’ young people who ‘left during the crisis’ but also ‘other generations’ emigrants who left at other times.

Members of the Portuguese Communities

José Luís Carneiro hopes that even though the automatic census for emigrants will result in an increase in voting that will allow the future increase in the number of members of the Portuguese communities to be considered.

«In the last legislative elections (2015) voted 28 thousand Portuguese, now we expect to increase the number of voters and my wish was that in four or eight years we were discussing the importance of being able to strengthen the number of deputies elected by emigration “, said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

MIL Translation OSI