The European Commission has adopted a "Partnership Agreement" with Portugal setting down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. Today’s agreement paves the way for investing €21.46 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding and the allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative). Portugal also receives €4.06 billion for rural development and €392 million for fisheries and the maritime sector.
The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy.
The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are:
Later today, President Barroso and Commissioner Hahn will participate in a meeting with the Portuguese prime minister and other members of the government in Lisbon to mark the launch of the Partnership Agreement.
Commenting on the adoption, President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso said: ”The adoption of the 'Partnership Agreement' is vital to continue the support to Portugal's recovery and development. It is very much geared towards improving competitiveness, creating jobs and promoting social inclusion. It is now paramount to use the nearly €26 billion in an efficient and productive manner, directly benefiting Portuguese people.”
Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, said: "Today we have adopted a vital, strategic investment plan that sets Portugal on the path to jobs and growth for the next decade. This Partnership Agreement reflects the European Commission and Portugal's joint determination to make the most efficient use of EU funding. Our investments must be strategic, according to the new Cohesion Policy - focusing on the real economy, on sustainable growth and investing in people. But quality not speed is the paramount aim and in the coming months we are fully dedicated to negotiating the best possible outcome for investments from the European Structural and Investment Funds in 2014-2020. Commitment is needed on all sides to ensure good quality programmes are put in place.”
Commissioner Hahn added: "The Partnership Agreement will focus very much on key interventions to support Portugal's economic recovery through a significant increase in its competitiveness. These include, for instance, supporting entrepreneurship and business innovation, fostering R&D knowledge transfer between academia and businesses, enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs, supporting the shift to a low-carbon economy and promoting resource efficiency, as well as contributing to the modernisation of the public administration, and investing in education and training."
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor said:
"Coming out of the financial crisis, Portugal still faces serious economic and social challenges. I am therefore pleased that it was possible to finalise the Portuguese Partnership Agreement quickly. Portugal will receive €7.5 billion from the European Social Fund which will help to tackle the social impact of the economic crisis and support a job-rich recovery. The ESF will also help Portugal to implement the Youth Guarantee, provide jobseekers of all ages with relevant skills, combat poverty, and modernise public administration. The ESF funds will be supplemented by more than € 160 million from the Youth Employment Initiative dedicated to fighting youth unemployment."
Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş said:
"In the recent years of economic crisis, the agri-food sector has made a significant contribution to growth in Portugal. Rural development programmes have helped modernize the agri-food sector, increasing exports and creating new jobs. Rural development funds will continue to play this key role and unlock the potential of Portugal's rural areas. Portugal is facing challenges, but Portugal has considerable strengths to build on, like its quality products, its know-how, the diversity of its rural landscapes, its resources and its young people more and more interested in the agricultural sector."
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said:
"As with all of the other funds, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund is about investing in local communities to help them unlock the sort of growth and jobs which Europe needs and which the EU is committed to making a reality. For Portugal in particular, the greatest challenge but also the most promising opportunity is to boost the country's Blue Growth potential, taking advantage of its longstanding tradition and experience in marine and maritime sectors: maritime tourism, marine energy, bottom sea exploitation and aquaculture in addition to maritime transport and port development."
All 28 Member States have now presented their Partnership Agreements to the Commission. Portugal is the 10th Member State to have adopted its agreement.