49th Portugal – United States Standing Bilateral Commission

1. The 49th Session of the United States-Portugal Standing Bilateral Commission (SBC), established by the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation and Defense, met on May 9, in Washington, to discuss the bilateral relationship and priority international matters, as well as NATO and security and defense topics.  The SBC also discussed the long-standing partnership, people-to-people ties, and cooperation with the Azores, and received Lajes Field updates.

2. Highlighting the importance of the bilateral partnership, rooted in deep historical ties, shared democratic values, and a common vision for addressing global challenges, the SBC noted the most recent high-level meetings and engagements since the previous SBC.  The SBC welcomed the recent visits to the United States of the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education; State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; State Secretary for Internationalization; Minister and State Secretary for Education; and State Secretary for Digitization and Modernization; and visits to Portugal by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Department of Energy Chief Information Officer; Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute; Director of the Smithsonian Institution; Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs; Under Secretary for Commerce; and U.S. Coordinator for Atlantic Cooperation.  These visits further advanced our important collaboration on matters of common interest, including exploring the potential of continually increasing bilateral trade and investment ties between both countries.

3. The SBC advanced cooperation on global priorities, with both countries emphasizing unwavering support for Ukraine against Russia’s brutal, further invasion of the country.  Both countries reaffirmed the importance of a strong U.S.-EU transatlantic relationship to promote peace, security, democracy, multilateralism, the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms, as well as to strengthen solutions based on shared values, to address pressing global challenges.

4. Additionally, the SBC further developed its high-level dialogue on energy, particularly the importance of promoting clean energy and protecting critical infrastructure. The United States and Portugal also decided to further explore the untapped potential of collaboration in science and technology, namely through university partnerships.

5.   The United States and Portugal celebrated the signing of three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) since the 48th SBC.  An MOU for triangular cooperation between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Portugal’s Institute for Cooperation and Language (Camões) established a basis for ongoing dialogue and trilateral cooperation to advance locally led, sustainable development in common partner countries, especially in Portuguese-speaking nations in Africa.  An MOU between the National Cancer Institute and Ministry of Health similarly established a basis for trilateral cooperation on cancer research and treatment.  A third MOU between Portugal and the U.S. Forest Service promises to open new doors to share best practices in preventing, fighting, and recovering from forest fires.  Both countries also welcomed ongoing discussions on MOUs for enhanced cooperation between Portugal and the State of California. 

6. The United States and Portugal declared their strong support for the initiative on Atlantic Cooperation, underscoring Portugal’s leadership in establishing the Atlantic Center and the strategic importance of the Azores and recognizing that Atlantic cooperation constitutes a central pillar of the bilateral relationship.  Both sides decided to promote and expand cooperation among all countries of the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Guinea and Portuguese speaking countries, increase diplomatic engagement, and explore avenues to allocate additional resources to bolster maritime law enforcement and governance, support for sustainable blue economies, and resilience to climate and environmental challenges.

7. The SBC reiterated its steadfast support for partner capacity-building considering known and emerging global threats.  The SBC acknowledged the need to cooperate in addressing these challenges at NATO, through the U.S.-EU partnership, as well as at the UN and in engagements with the international community.  The 49th SBC commended the United States and Portugal for their significant contributions to overseas peace operations and international security, specifically acknowledging Portugal’s exercise of Force Command of international missions (EUTM Mozambique, EUTM Central African Republic, EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, Deputy Force Commander MINUSCA). 

8. With NATO serving as the indispensable transatlantic security forum, the SBC delegations reaffirmed the need to consult, coordinate, and act on matters related to Allies’ collective security.  Both countries recognized the importance of a reinforced strategic dialogue and cooperation between the EU and NATO to ensure complementarity and preserve a spirit of mutual openness and transparency.  The United States and Portugal noted the importance of robust political, military, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, as well as ongoing force deployments within the NATO sphere of operations.  Both countries underscored their cooperation in the context of a 360-degree approach to addressing Euro-Atlantic security challenges.

9. The SBC registered the shared commitment of both countries to the strengthening of cooperation between the Azores and the United States, including broad collaboration, namely in the fields of science and technology, with the allocation of adequate resources to deepen this work. 

10. The SBC received Joint Statements regarding the most recent discussions held at the Technical Commission and Labor Committee meetings and their respective activities to resolve issues at Lajes Field.   The SBC lauded recent constructive discussions held by both committees.  The SBC reiterated the importance of environmental safety in the Azores and underscored the Technical Commission’s role in continuing to track progress on matters related to environmental sites.  The SBC recognized the importance of the ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Center and Portugal’s National Laboratory for Civil Engineering at Lajes Field and encouraged the continuation of joint fieldwork and the mutual exchange of data, reports, and technical expertise between U.S. and Portuguese representatives. The SBC was encouraged by ongoing projects at Site 3001 in the interest of human health and safety.

11. While reaffirming their political and military alliance and the strength of their bilateral cooperation, the United States and Portugal decided to discontinue the Subcommittees on Defense, Justice and Home Affairs, and Trade and Investment created in 2011.  The SBC decided to maintain only the Committee on Science, Technology, Energy and Environment to continue identifying new and cutting-edge areas to further develop bilateral cooperation in this field.

12. As previously determined in Lisbon, the SBC is pleased to announce the 50th SBC session to be held in the Azores, Portugal, in November 2023.