EU recovery plan should be aimed at worst-hit sectors

  • Lusa
  • 13 May 2020

Portugal's planning minister Nelson asked for a change of the criteria for the distribution of the European Union (EU) recovery fund.

Portugal’s planning minister Nelson de Souza on Tuesday called for an adjustment of the criteria for the distribution of the European Union (EU) recovery fund to finance the sectors most affected by the crisis from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In a first phase, the recovery plan must respond to the worst affected,” the minister said in a press conference organised by the European Parliament’s (EP) representation in Portugal.

De Souza stressed that the economic crisis associated with the paralysis of the economies was severely hitting sectors such as tourism, linked to other sectors such as catering or aviation, but also exporting sectors, such as footwear and textiles, which although they have been able to respond to the opportunities created by the crisis, have also seen their exports affected globally.

At first, the recovery plan must also respond to these real issues, he said, stressing that this goes hand in hand with another, that the plan must be based on the European recovery agenda, which involves green growth, digitalisation and strengthening of production chains, among others.

“We need to bring together various perspectives’, he insisted.

De Souza also said that the criteria for considering the level of unemployment generated by the crisis should take into account not only actual unemployment but also the situation of “people who are in temporary suspension work schemes, who do not count as unemployed but who are in a transitional situation and even with a loss of income, with their rights affected and perhaps many of them threatened with unemployment when they finish this situation”.

Obviously, the cohesion policy has to be used as a tool, because it is the one that is best prepared on the ground to have a rapid response, he said, adding that Portugal has signed up to a common position, which is being announced today in the European press and which also brings together Italy, France, Greece and Cyprus.

The objective, he explained, is that also in relation to the fund package that is linked to the cohesion policy, “it will make some sense that the normal criteria [of distribution of the European budget] can be adjusted, but without drastically changing the heart of the cohesion policy, which has to do with favouring the poorest, least developed regions, taking into account what has been most particularly affected”.