Fresh blow to Web Summit as German economy minister cancels Portugal trip

Move comes after more than 300 Israeli entrepreneurs wrote an open letter to Habeck calling for a boycott of tech event

German economy minister Robert Habeck cancelled a planned trip to Portugal that was to include attending the next week’s Web Summit, as a firestorm over comments by the event’s founder and ex-CEO Paddy Cosgrave continues to rage.

The decision comes after more than 300 Israeli entrepreneurs wrote an open letter on Wednesday to Habeck calling for a boycott of Web Summit. It also follows the unexpected resignation of Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa on Tuesday amid a series of raids as part of a corruption probe.

“This was decided on the basis of an overall assessment, particularly in light of the current political events in Portugal,” a ministry spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “The discussion about the Web Summit also played a role.”

Many investors pulled out of Web Summit after its founder Paddy Cosgrave last month criticised western support of Israel on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter. They were followed by numerous companies, including Google parent Alphabet, Meta Platforms, Amazon and Intel. Cosgrave subsequently resigned as the event’s chief executive officer.


Habeck’s presence at the Web Summit would send “a contradictory signal, especially to our flourishing Israeli business community, which makes an important contribution to Germany’s business and industry,” according to the open letter, which was published by Germany’s Stern magazine.

Web Summit is scheduled to begin on November 13 in Lisbon. – Bloomberg