left your role in local politics in Vila Verde for the European Union (EU).
I had been the mayor of Vila Verde for 12 years. I accepted the challenge to join the European Parliament (EP) list. In the 2009 elections, I was in eighth place, in a list headed by Paulo Rangel, in a position, in which, at the start, I wasn't electable. But the campaign developed favourably and I was elected. When I arrived at the EP, the first thing I asked myself was: «what are you going to do? Are you going to keep up the close relationship you had with your territory and with the people?» A mayor makes decisions that affect his territory and the local population directly and immediately. Whereas an MEP deals with important dossiers, such as those I have right now, which take time to be implemented, but which affect 500 million citizens.
Yes, because this isn't a post to which you get appointed. It is a post for which only your peers can vote. I was elected unanimously by my colleagues.
You currently have two very important dossiers: the Budget for 2016 and the Juncker Plan?
They are two weighty dossiers. The EU Budget for 2016 amounts to 145 billion euros and for which I have already approved the general guidelines: employment, enterprises and entrepreneurialism. The three Es. The Juncker Plan is a fund amounting to 315 billion euros and it is the one that has had the most amendment proposals from colleagues. There are more than 3000 amendment proposals.
But why propose the three Es as priorities in the Budget for 2016?
That's an interesting question. It shows where I began: with the issue of relationships. In the last EP election campaign, a year ago, I said that I would defend the three Es as a priority. It gives me particular pleasure that a campaign commitment made to the territory is now a commitment for 500 million voters.
«In the long term my greatest concern is Russia»