Eurovision 2018: Which countries will compete in Lisbon?

by Sanjay (Sergio) Jiandani 26,544 views

Preparations are in full swing for the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest as Portugal gears up to host the music fest next year. Which countries will be joining the party? Will there be any comebacks? withdrawals? debuts? How many countries are coming to Lisbon? Let’s check it out….

Thunder and lightning! It’s getting exciting! The 2018 Eurovision season is here….. The majestic city of Lisbon is all set to welcome Europe come May when the Eurovision bandwagon lands in the Portuguese capital bringing with itself all the glam, gloss, glitz and rasmatazz

Around 40 plus countries are expected to join the party next year in Lisbon. The maximum number of countries permitted to compete in next year’s contest is 46, whilst the Grand Final will feature a total of 26 nations battling for the Grand Prix.

10 countries from each semifinal proceed to the Grand Final, thus 20 nations will join the host country Portugal and the Big Five (Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France) on 12 May.

A total of 43 countries have confirmed their participation in Eurovision 2018 so far. The deadline for broadcasters to apply for participation concluded on 15 September and the grace period for applicant countries to withdraw their application without facing a financial penalty concluded on 10 October.

Will Australia participate in Lisbon?

The Aussies are very keen to join the Eurovision party in Lisbon next year, more so after garnering great results in the competition in their short 3 year Eurovision history. The contest is very popular down under and the country has been broadcasting the event for more than 30 years.

SBS is not an active member of the EBU but an associate member, therefore the 2018 Eurovision host broadcater RTP and the EBU have extended an invite to the Australian broadcaster in order to join the competition in Lisbon.

Will there be any debuts?

It is highly unlikely that we will see any new countries the contest next year. Liechtenstein‘s national broadcaster 1Fl TV is not an EBU member therefore it is not eligible to take part in the contest. The landlocked country is very keen to join the Eurovision family, but due to the high expenses entailing participation and EBU membership fees, we will not see Liechtenstein’s debut in Lisbon.

Whilst Kazakh broadcaster Khabar Agency is an associate EBU member since 2016, Kazakhstan has to be formally invited by the EBU to join the competition. It is entirely up to the EBU’s discretion to extend an invite to the country very much like in the case of Australia. The Kazakh broadcaster has been airing the contest for the past years.

Kosovo is not a member of the ITU (International Television Union), one of  the key requirements to become an active EBU member. Thus RTK is not an EBU member and is currently ineligible to join the contest. The country is neither a member of the United Nations or the Council of Europe. The Eurovision Song Contest has been broadcast live in the Balkan country in recent years. The Kosovan broadcaster confirmed that Kosovo will not debut at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon.

ESCToday contacted the EBU in order to she more light on Kosovo’s potential ESC participation and we got the following answer:

Kosovo cannot take part in the Eurovision Song Contest because they are neither an EBU Member or Associate. The statutes of the EBU say that a Member must come from a country that is a Member of the International Telecommunications Union or is a Member of the Council of Europe. Kosovo is in neither. The EBU helped set up Kosovo’s public service broadcaster RTK in 1999 and it continues to work closely with RTK to protect public service media in Kosovo. The ESC Reference Group is however mandated to make exception to the Rules on a case by case basis.

Who is returning?

Russia is all set to return to the contest next year after its withdrawal from the competition in 2017. It will be interesting to see which of the 2 national broadcasters will be in Lisbon as Channel One withdrew from Eurovision this year and 2018 is RTR’s (Rossija 1) turn to participate.

In 2017 Channel One Russia (C1) did not participate in Eurovision due to the ban imposed by Ukrainian authorities, and given the scenario and circumstances it is highly likely that the broadcaster will participate in Lisbon.

As in Belgium where 2 broadcasters alternate participating in Europe’s favorite television show, the same happens in Russia as both Russian broadcasters are EBU members: Channel 1 participates in Eurovision during odd years, whilst RTR (Rossija 1) during even years.

Who is withdrawing?

So far there is no indication of any withdrawal from any of the 2017 Eurovision participating countries.

On 30 October, the EBU confirmed to ESCToday that MRT’s Eurovision 2018 participation had been blocked due its debt. There could be a change of wind if the Macedonian broadcaster settles its debt in time, thus enabling the country to partake in the competition next May. Unfortunately FYR Macedonia will not participate at the 2018 ESC in Lisbon.

On 17 November the EBU announced that it had lifted sanctions imposed on MRT and that FYR Macedonia would be joining the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon.

Who will not return?

Andorra, Turkey, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Monaco have all confirmed that they will not return to the competition in 2018. It is also almost certain that Morocco will not return to the contest next year either, as the country has only participated once and has not returned since its debut in 1980.

Bosnia & Herzegovina has also confirmed that it will not return to Eurovision in 2018 as its national broadcaster BHRT is currently facing a financial turmoil which also obliged the country to miss the 2017 Eurovision edition after its return in 2016.

Confirmed countries

  1. Sweden
  2. Denmark
  3. Finland
  4. Iceland
  5. Norway
  6. Belgium
  7. Serbia
  8. Malta
  9. Germany
  10. Switzerland
  11. Poland
  12. France
  13. Latvia
  14. Estonia
  15. Romania
  16. Portugal
  17. Ireland
  18. Azerbaijan
  19. Lithuania
  20. Austria
  21. The Netherlands
  22. Cyprus
  23. Ukraine
  24. Australia
  25. Belarus
  26. Spain
  27. Greece
  28. Croatia
  29. United Kingdom
  30. Italy
  31. Slovenia
  32. Bulgaria
  33. Montenegro
  34. Czech Republic
  35. Albania
  36. Georgia
  37. Israel
  38. Hungary
  39. San Marino
  40. Armenia
  41. Moldova
  42. Russia
  43. FYR Macedonia

Will not return

  1. Turkey
  2. Luxembourg
  3. Andorra
  4. Monaco
  5. Slovakia
  6. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  7. Morocco

No debut

  1. Liechtenstein
  2. Kosovo
  3. Kazakshtan


The 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is scheduled to be held on 8, 10 and 12 May at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.