Portugal – €100 billion in EU grants and still going strong
At the request of Portugal, the European Commission has green-lighted the modification of eleven 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy programmes to shift resources where they are now most needed, according to an announcement from the European Commission.
€2.7 billion of Cohesion Policy funds will be redirected towards priorities defined by the Portuguese government. In light of solid economic growth, the reprogramming of Portugal’s Cohesion budget will enable the country to continue implementing structural reforms and ensure the sustainability of public finances while investing for the future.
Speaking at a public event in Lisbon with Prime Minister António Costa, Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Cre?u said: “This reprogramming is not a mathematical exercise. This is about Portugal defining its priorities for the years to come, to create growth and jobs for the people. This is about the EU showing flexibility and giving Portugal the means to invest where its future lies. But this is first and foremost about the great cooperation between the EU and Portugal throughout the process, which officially concludes today, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we achieved.”
The revised programmes will allow Portugal to focus further on key areas for the future of its economy and for a better quality of life in the country; innovation in small and medium businesses (+€688 million), skills and training (+€931m), support to employment and entrepreneurship (+€256m), clean urban mobility (+€285m) and social infrastructure (+€627m).
In particular, the reprogramming exercise will enable the implementation of new large infrastructure projects of strategic importance: the extension of the metros in Lisbon and Porto, the modernization of the Cascais urban railway line and a new mobility system for the Mondego area, near the city of Coimbra. A new scheme, blending grants and financial instruments, will be set up to help innovative small and medium businesses get better access to finance.
Special attention is given to economic growth in the Portuguese Outermost regions, with increased support for the competitiveness of small and medium businesses in Madeira and for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage in the Azores – a key touristic asset.
This reprograming exercise does not impact the overall allocation of EU funds for Portugal in the 2014-2020 period. It also does not imply changes in total EU allocations per programme or per fund, but only within each programme concerned, by transferring resources across investment priorities.
In July 2018 Portugal asked the Commission to approve the reshuffling of resources under Cohesion Policy programmes for the 2014-2020 budget period, in order to align them to the new political and strategic priorities of the Portuguese government in light of the new economic situation. Indeed, the discussions on the current investment priorities and programmes took place between 2011 and 2014, when the economic context was not as favourable as now.
Portugal has reaped the fruits of the more than €100 billion of Cohesion Policy funds invested in the country since its accession to the European Union. Between 1986 and the 2000’s, per head gross domestic product in Portugal has increased from 60% to 80% of the EU average – not least thanks to EU investments and the efforts of the Portuguese people. Cohesion Policy funds also provided a vital source of public investments during the financial and economic crisis.
Results of Cohesion Policy investments carried out over the last decade in the country include the creation of nearly 60,000 jobs, the construction of 460 km of new roads and 500,000 people having access to better drinking water supply.
Portugal will receive significant support from the EU under the 2021-2027 Cohesion Policy, with a proposed envelope of €23.8bn (current prices).