JE personalities: Ernâni Rodrigues Lopes - From Portugal's accession to the EEC, to the hypercluster of the sea

Ernâni Rodrigues Lopes was decisive in Portugal's accession to the European Economic Community. And he was also one of the economists who paid the most attention to the development of the Economy of the Sea, in a Portuguese maritime area equivalent to the territory of India. When the first million euros of grants from the European Recovery Fund start to arrive, the Portuguese and the Government may well remember this former Minister of Finance and the Plan.

Jornal Económico chose 30 personalities from the last 25 years that have marked, in a positive and negative way, the current Portuguese society: politicians, businessmen, managers, economists and civil society personalities. The methodology used to compile the JE Personalities is explained at the end of the text.

European Union subsidies and a better use of national wealth are the two scales that can balance Portuguese economic development in the coming years. For different reasons, both are related to the economist Ernâni Rodrigues Lopes. Because? That is what we explain here.

One of the scales is the biggest support that Portugal currently has and that will come from the European Union, namely from the subsidies and loans that will reach the country, from the recent Recovery Fund of 750 billion euros, which was approved by the European Council, chaired by the Belgian Charles Michel, being assigned by the European Commission, led by the German Ursula Von Der Leyen, according to the “Recovery and Resilience Plan - Recover Portugal 2021-2026”, which the Portuguese Government presented to Brussels.

On the other side of the scale is the development of one of the greatest potential sources of national wealth, precisely the Portuguese maritime territorial platform.

Now, these two scales are inextricably linked to the economist and university professor Ernâni Rodrigues Lopes (1942 - 2010) -, firstly for the diplomatic, financial and technical work he carried out and which allowed Portugal to apply to enter the European Economic Community (EEC) ) and then, years later, for the extensive study he led towards the country being able to take advantage of marine and maritime wealth, in an area that has an extension equivalent to the territory of India. Ernâni Lopes made a decisive contribution to making Portugal currently in the EU and pioneered Portuguese potential in an immense geographical area, covered by the Atlantic Ocean.

This economist and university professor lived his life with a spirit of mission, dedicated to promoting Portuguese economic and social development. He formed and taught his whole life. And he was a man with unshakable faith. In the last interview he gave, Ernâni Lopes, then 68 years old, felt that he was a teacher “for an eternity”.

It was while Minister of Finance and Plan, between 1983 and 1985, during the third Government of Mário Soares - corresponding to the IX Constitutional Government -, in a mandate marked by the austerity measures required by the second IMF bailout to Portugal, that Ernâni Lopes followed the financial policies that are decisive for the success of the final negotiations for Portugal's accession to the EEC, in which it also participated. In this case, it is pointless to detail much more the relevance of the support that Portugal awaits from the EU - the grants from the Recovery Fund -, which are essential to recover the national economy devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hypercluster was completed in 2009

On the participation of Ernâni Lopes in the work “Hypercluster of the Economy of the Sea - A Domain of Strategic Potential for the Development of the Portuguese Economy”, concluded on February 17, 2009, it is recalled that it was coordinated by SaeR - Sociedade de Avaliação Strategica e Risk and promoted by ACL - Lisbon Commercial Association - Portuguese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, chaired by Bruno Bobone, it is necessary to mention that it determined a good part of the strategy that Portugal has followed in the economic and scientific activities linked to the sea sector.

Founded by Ernâni Rodrigues Lopes, SaeR currently has José Poças Esteves as managing partner, and as senior partner, Francisco Murteira Nabo who are the guarantor of the skills and values ​​of SaeR consultants, following the standards of competence imposed by Ernâni Lopes, as well as the values ​​of “Independence, Excellence, Rigor and Confidentiality” defended by SaeR. It should be noted that even today Saer promotes “Mare Startup”, a support network for “those who want to create an innovative company in the sea area, of which SaeR is a partner”. In fact, this network was “chosen as a case study for the OECD Ocean Economy work program”, SaeR says.

It is also recalled that on May 16, 2009, the Expresso newspaper published exclusively the “Hypercluster”, where Ernâni Lopes explained the “use that can be made of the main activities related to the sea, considered as the greatest natural resource available of the Portuguese economy ”, in a proposal for“ strategic reorientation of Portugal ”, then referred to the weekly. The “Hypercluster” admitted that a correct use of the potential of activities linked to the Portuguese maritime area would allow “to double its weight in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025”, calculating, based on 2009 values, that the sea economy could “To be worth 12% of Portuguese GDP, that is, about 20 billion euros” in 2025.

Fórum Oceano is the product of the work of Ernâni Lopes

But in the meantime, the world has changed a lot. Even so, just as Portugal remains in the European Union - although it does not always remember the work that Ernâni Lopes did to make the reality of Portugal as a member of the EU possible - the bases of the “Hypercluster” also remained. The “Forum Oceano”, is a “product of that work” by Ernâni Lopes, as recognized by the Jornal Económico Rúben Eiras, coordinator of the Blue Economy of the “Forum Oceano - Business Association of the Economy of the Sea”. However, the results of the “Hypercluster” do not end here.

The “ENM - National Strategy for the Sea 2021-2030” itself develops many proposals made by Ernâni Lopes. For the time being the public consultation period for this document is still in progress - available on the website of DGPM - Directorate-General for Maritime Policy -, whose consultation phase will only end on November 2nd, but the “ENM 2021-2030” will certainly be one of the main “conducting threads” of the policy adopted by the Minister of the Sea, Ricardo Serrão Santos.

It is known that Portugal must follow ten strategic objectives until 2030 in the activities that will be developed in the Atlantic Ocean, with the objective of increasing the Gross Added Value (GVA) of the Sea Economy by 30% by the end of the current decade, although it ranks 30 % of Portuguese sea waters as “Marine Protected Areas”. Science infrastructures linked to the sea will be promoted, but efforts will also be made to increase the industrial capacity of the Economy of the Sea, in order to create 'clusters' in various areas, as defended by Ernâni Lopes. One of the themes to be concluded is the process of extending the Portuguese continental shelf, which is fundamental to define the area that will be devoted to the development of the Economy of the Sea.

Ricardo Serrão Santos has been explaining that this is not the strategy for the Ministry of the Sea, being transversal to several areas. From a practical point of view, one of the areas with the greatest growth is aquaculture, as Jerónimo Martins Group CEO Pedro Soares dos Santos previously mentioned to JE, who has encouraged the increase in the volume of business generated by breeding projects fish developed in the waters off the island of Madeira. Speaking to the agency Lusa, the Minister of the Sea explained that “aquaculture is an area of ​​food production that is growing all over the world. We are one of the largest 'per capita' consumers of fish on the planet, but we must also find opportunities to produce fish, not just by extraction ”.

ENM 2021-2030 does not have its own budget

As with so many other areas, the “ENM 2021-2030” strategy will depend on the EU's financial packages, as it does not have a specific budget. Rúben Eiras, former director general of Maritime Policy, told JE that the Sea Economy in Portugal continues to grow, approaching 5% of GDP, with a GVA of 4%, explaining that the Blue Economy includes ports, aquaculture, the fish processing industry, recreational boating, maritime transport, shipbuilding, science and technology and mineral extraction, among other areas.

Among the most developed activities, the latest Blue Economy report highlights aquaculture for its environmental relevance, given that this activity is carbon neutral and does not contribute to the reduction of fish resources. Aquaculture itself has evolved significantly towards multitrophic exploration models in the open sea, which replicate the ecosystem, which presupposes the creation of local species that in some cases had suffered a considerable reduction in schools.

That is, in addition to the economic importance of aquaculture, there is a sustainability factor that will make it possible to use this activity (licensed and job creation, generator of national wealth and driving the increase in GVA in the country), as a multiplier of species, which does not being in extinction, they are registering a considerable decrease in the number of specimens identified in their schools or natural habitats.

New business opportunities in aquaculture

Not counting on the promotion of innumerable business opportunities, ranging from the maintenance companies of the frames or cages for the aquaculture of the high seas, to the rental of operations vessels to maintain these cages, to the agreements with scientific institutions for monitoring the fish reproduction and growth, up to fish collection systems, packaging, auctioning to auctions and markets, including exports of the most valuable species to distant markets (for example, to Japan), by air transport.

But the importance of the sea economy continues far beyond aquaculture, as Ernâni Lopes explained. The port sector, combined with integrated logistics, is one of those with the greatest potential for diversification and growth - the example of the ports of Singapore and China, digitized and automated - as well as the shipping activity, with the use of green technologies , from ships that are not polluting, or that use renewable fuels with low CO2 emissions, using photovoltaic panels, natural gas combined with hydrogen or modern sail systems that take advantage of wind energy, making transoceanic routes sustainable.

Recreational boating itself has been in greater demand due to the Covid-16 pandemic, which creates opportunities for new production of recreational vessels in small shipyards. Ship repair - an area in which Lisnave specializes and in which it enjoys an excellent international reputation - can also be encouraged and increased.

Floating wind farms

The energy sector may have new growth in terms of floating wind farms located in offshore areas. One example is the Windfloat Atlantic in the maritime area near Viana do Castelo. The area of ​​scientific research also allows the development of macroalgae aquaculture projects that, among other uses, would make marine reforestation feasible, and which goes far beyond the traditional activity of moliceiros who collected macroalgae mixed with seaweed, with multiple clients, among which , pharmaceuticals and the agricultural sector that uses this production to fertilize arable soil, as well as the production of flour, and the synthesis of oils, or food production.

At the level of the heaviest industry, specialized in the extraction of minerals, the area of ​​the Portuguese maritime platform has resources that have never been explored as are the cases of rare minerals, which are of interest to the extractive industries.

Every year, on the 20th of May, when the European Day of the Sea and the Day of the Navy are celebrated, there are a relevant number of specialists in the Economy of the Sea who recall the effort that Ernâni Lopes dedicated to this area, waiting for the new development of projects and by the growth of GVA in the sector, which may contribute to the increase in Portuguese GDP.

Life path

With a degree from the Higher Institute of Economic and Financial Sciences - now ISEG -, Ernâni Lopes received the D. Dinis Prize awarded to students with the best grades. He served in the military as an officer of the Naval Reserve between 1964 and 1967, the year he joined Banco de Portugal as a technical assistant at the Bank's Statistics and Economic Studies Service, where he remained until 1974, becoming director, a position he held until 1975.

There followed the years dedicated to the diplomatic career, during which he was Ambassador of Portugal in Bonn, in the Federal Republic of Germany until 1979 and Ambassador and head of the Portuguese mission to the European Communities in Brussels until 1983.

In his academic career, he was an assistant at ISCEF between 1966 and 1974 and received his doctorate in Economics from Universidade Católica Portuguesa in 1982. At Católica he was responsible for the Institute of European Studies since 1996. He founded and was a managing partner at SaeR - Strategic Assessment and Risk Society, currently led by José Poças Esteves and Francisco Murteira Nabo. He was also founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fundação Luso-Espanhola (from 2000 to 2010). As mentioned at the beginning of the text, he was Minister of Finance and Plan, between 1983 and 1985, during the third Government of Mário Soares, in the IX Constitutional Government.

Ernâni Lopes is responsible for coordinating two scientific works that intend to improve Portugal's policies in the tourism sector, which was presented in 2004, and in the vast sector of activities related to the sea, precisely the “Hypercluster of the Economy of the Sea”, completed in 2007.

Some of the recommendations proposed in 2004 for the tourism sector were followed by the Secretary of State for Tourism, Bernardo Trindade, in 2010. But the proposals related to the sea economy only started to be debated in 2017. Ernâni Lopes died at the age of 68, in the Lisbon IPO, after four years of fighting lymphoma.


Jornal Económico (JE) selected the 30 most relevant personalities for Portugal in the last 25 years, referring to the period marked out between 1995 and 2020, highlighting those who had the greatest influence on the development of civil society, the national economy, and the international growth of our groups in the way the Portuguese Diaspora and Portuguese-speaking communities evolved, in the process of attracting foreign investors and, in short, in the way the country has established itself in the world. The initial list of 25 names was published on September 4, 2020 as part of the 25th anniversary of the Sapo portal. Resuming the initiative from the last weekend of September, but now extended to 30 personalities, the JE will publish, every Saturday and Sunday, texts about the 30 selected personalities, in descending order. To the 25 names initially published, JE now adds the names of António Ramalho Eanes, António Guterres, Pedro Queiroz Pereira, Vasco de Mello and Rui Nabeiro.

It is necessary to explain to the reader that the methodology followed was guided by journalistic criteria, without privileging eminently political personalities, who tend to have a greater media profile than that given to entrepreneurs, economists, managers and lawyers, but also without ignore the politicians who have been determinants in society during the last quarter century. Also not ignored were the personalities who, having died shortly before 1995, had an economic, social, cultural, scientific and political impact until 2020, as is the case with José Azeredo Perdigão and the work he built throughout his long life. life - the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The ranking is initiated by the historical leaders of five Portuguese business groups, with Alexandre Soares dos Santos in first place, distinguished as a major employer in the area of ​​food distribution, and for promoting the internationalization of his group in geographies such as Poland - with the brand “Biedronka” (Joaninha) - and Colombia. He also assured the passing of testimony to his son Pedro Soares dos Santos. The Jerónimo Martins Group has been encouraging the use of marine resources, by increasing Portuguese aquaculture production in the Madeira Sea - although several economists have highlighted the importance of the Portuguese maritime platform as a source of wealth, few entrepreneurs have supported projects in this area , being the group led by Soares dos Santos one of the cases that did not neglect the potential of the Portuguese sea.

It follows in second place Américo Amorim, who in addition to his cork empire - the only sector in which Portugal has achieved world leadership -, stood out in the world of energy and oil, ensuring the continuity of family control of his business through your daughters. Belmiro de Azevedo appears in third place, consolidating the activity of his Sonae, as well as participation in the competitive world of telecommunications and the development of his food distribution group, with testimony passed on to his daughter, Cláudia Azevedo.

In fourth place is António Champalimaud and the work that the “captain of the industry” left, in banking consolidation, as a shareholder in Grupo Santander - one of the largest in Europe -, but also in terms of research carried out in the health area, at the Champalimaud Foundation . Fifthly, Francisco Pinto Balsemão is the one who focused his business life on building a communication group with integrated platforms and solid positions in the leadership of the press and television during the last quarter of a century.

The politicians appear among the following individuals, led by Mário Soares (who appears in 6th place). António Ramalho Eanes is in 7th place, António Guterres in 8th, followed by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (9th), António Costa (10th), José Eduardo dos Santos (11th) - due to the weight that his family members had in the Portuguese economy , especially his daughter Isabel dos Santos, and for the investments made in Portugal by the group of Angolan politicians and businessmen close to the former president of Angola, currently questioned, mostly, by the Angolan justice - and Aníbal Cavaco Silva (12th). Jorge Sampaio comes in 13th, followed by Mário Centeno (14th), José de Azeredo Perdigão (15th), António Luciano de Sousa Franco (16th), Pedro Passos Coelho (17th), Álvaro Cunhal (18th), Ernesto Melo Antunes (19th) , Luís Mira Amaral (20th), Pedro Queiroz Pereira (21st), Vasco de Mello (22nd), Ricardo Salgado (23rd), José Socrates (24th), Ernâni Rodrigues Lopes (25th), Francisco Murteira Nabo (26th), Rui Nabeiro (27th), Leonor Beleza (28th), António Arnaut (29th) and Joana de Barros Baptista (30th).

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