The President of the European Commission guarantees that “the European Union is in solidarity with Portugal” in the face of the crisis caused by the pandemic of the covid-19, as demonstrated by the fact that the country is one of the important beneficiaries of the Recovery Fund.
In an interview with the Lusa agency on the eve of his first official visit to Portugal as president of the community executive, Ursula von der Leyen states that “Portuguese citizens have fought in a very courageous and disciplined way against the virus and have even been more successful than others ”, and can count on the support of the EU, which will also help to“ boost ”the recovery of the Portuguese economy.
“The European Union will ensure that the Portuguese people, European citizens and people around the world have access to a future vaccine. And the EU will also be on the side of the Portuguese in recovering from the economic crisis ”, guarantees the President of the Commission.
Maintaining that the NextGenerationEU, the recovery fund proposed by its executive and agreed by European leaders at a long summit last July, gives Europe “the opportunity not only to repair the damage and recover from the current situation, but to shape a better way of life”, Von der Leyen highlights that “Portugal will be an important beneficiary”.
Dependence on tourism
According to the commitment reached last July, Portugal will receive 15.3 billion euros in grants (non-refundable), including 13.2 billion euros, until 2023, through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism, the main instrument of the Recovery Fund.
According to the Commission president, the support that Portugal will receive “will provide the means to boost the recovery of the Portuguese economy, based on the double ecological and digital transition, while ensuring that no one is left behind”.
Asked about the particular impact that the covid-19 crisis had in Portugal as one of the countries where the Gross Domestic Product depends most on tourism, one of the sectors most affected, Ursula von der Leyen observes that “all Member States, both large as well as small ones, those that are economically stronger and less strong, felt their vulnerability during this crisis ”.
“The current crisis has affected all Member States, albeit differently, and we have to work hard to make our economies more resistant to external shocks”, he says, in the written interview with Lusa.
According to the German official, “the instrument NextGenerationEU it was designed to take these differences into account “and” many of the measures adopted by the Commission are specifically aimed at the tourism sector, which is so important for countries like Portugal “.
“Earlier this month, the Commission adopted a proposal to ensure that measures taken individually by Member States and that restrict free movement due to the coronavirus pandemic are coordinated and communicated clearly at EU level. We hope that this proposal can be adopted soon by the governments of the Union ”, he recalled, referring to the efforts of Brussels to safeguard the Schengen area of free movement and, consequently, also to protect the tourism sector, particularly damaged by the closings of borders and other restrictions that Member States have been unilaterally taking since last March.
Ursula in Portugal
Ursula von der Leyen will be starting from Monday in Lisbon, for a two-day visit, the first since she assumed the presidency of the Commission in December 2019, and during which she will participate in a session, on Tuesday, at Champalimaud Foundation, with the Prime Minister, António Costa, in which they will present the European and Portuguese recovery plans respectively.
Even before this session, the Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission will pay a visit to the Ricardo Jorge Institute, a Valencia that has been at the forefront of the fight against covid-19.
During his presence in Portugal, Ursula von der Leyen participates on Tuesday, at the invitation of the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in the meeting of the Council of State, which will debate the situation and the future of Europe, and is scheduled to the Cascais Citadel Palace.