EU allows €1B from Cohesion to be spent on economic recovery

  • Lusa
  • 23 October 2020

The European Commission has authorised Portugal to redirect one billion of cohesion funds to economic recovery.

The European Commission on Friday authorised Portugal to redirect EU funds from cohesion policy funds and to allocate €1 billion to the economic recovery from the crisis generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, fighting its “adverse effects.”

In a communiqué, the EU executive explained that it “approved the modification of 10 operational programmes in Portugal, redirecting a total of more than €1 billion of European cohesion policy funds”, including the Regional Development (ERDF), Cohesion (CF) and European Social Fund (ESF).

“Together with a temporary increase in the EU co-financing rate to 100% for cohesion policy projects fighting the pandemic, these changes will enable the country to cope with the adverse effects of the coronavirus crisis on the economy by supporting its recovery”, the institution said in the press release.

According to Brussels, this involves investments in health, for example, to purchase tests and personal protective equipment, and in education, to enable schools to be digitised.

This reallocation of EU funds will also enable the country to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the tourism sector and cultural activities.

To this end, adjustments have been made to Portugal’s operational programmes for seven regions (Algarve, Azores, Centro, Lisbon, Madeira, Norte, Alentejo), as well as three national programmes (such as those for competitiveness – Compete; sustainability of resources – SEUR; and technical assistance).

The European Commission pointed out that this reallocation of funds was made possible by the “exceptional flexibility” of Community investment initiatives and respond to the new coronavirus crisis (CRII and CRII+).

This is because “they allow the Member States to use cohesion policy funds to support sectors most at risk from the pandemic, such as health care, SMEs and the labour market”, the institution concludes.

Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, stressed that, as in other EU countries, “thanks to these changes, Portugal and its outermost regions will boost their socio-economic and health recovery”.

“The Commission’s rapid and comprehensive response to the [new] coronavirus crisis proves that, when we cooperate and are united, we are stronger and able to face unexpected challenges,” said Elisa Ferreira, quoted in the statement.