Parliamentary Friendship Groups
Under the Rules of Procedure of the Assembleia da República, parliamentary friendship groups are bodies whose vocation is to engage in dialogue and cooperation with the parliaments of the countries that are friends of Portugal. They are responsible for, among others, promoting the actions needed to intensify relations with the parliament and parliamentarians of other states, particularly regarding the exchange of knowledge and experiences, the exchange of information and mutual consultations (with a view to the possibility of articulating positions in international bodies of an interparliamentary nature), or the publicising and promotion of common interests in the political, economic, social and cultural fields.
The list of parliamentary friendship groups is based on a reflection promoted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Portuguese Communities – at the request of the President of the Assembleia da República – on the role they should play in the activities of the Assembleia da República as a whole, particularly in the field of external relations and parliamentary diplomacy.
Then, the Assembleia da República sets a list of bilateral and multilateral parliamentary friendship groups whose establishment is deemed of justified relevance, making it possible to address the need to deepen special relations of ongoing institutional cooperation with the parliaments of friendly countries.
Parliamentary friendship groups (PFGs) occupy an important position in the international activities of the Assembleia da República as a whole, particularly concerning the development of parliamentary diplomacy.
PFGs are composed of varying numbers of Members of the Assembleia da República and are multiparty in nature, reflecting the number of seats each party holds in the Assembleia da República.
The first parliamentary friendship groups were set up under Decision No 4-PL/90 of 20 June 1990.
The continuous development of PFGs meant that more precise regulations were needed, and this happened in the 9th Legislature, with the implementation of new rules laid down in Resolution No 6/2003 of 24 January 2003, which applied the rules governing the operating regime of specialised standing parliamentary committees to PFGs by analogy. The implementation of this procedure, by enhancing the dignity of PFGs, also helps to make their operation more effective and efficient.
How PFGs are formed
PFGs with parliaments of other countries may be formed at the initiative of the President of the Assembleia da República or of a group of Members of the Assembleia da República. However, their formal establishment requires a specific Order of the President and its publication in the Journal of the Assembleia da República.
Activities of PFGs
Each year, PFGs must submit an activity programme for approval by the President of the Assembleia da República. Each PFG also draws up an annual report on its activities.
The activity of PFGs consists of regular exchanges of information, periodic meetings with their counterpart groups and other relevant entities; initiatives or other forms of cooperation at the bilateral level; and the analysis of matters of common interest, namely, in the political, cultural, social and economic areas.