Science ‘a real weapon’ against populism, ignorance – Prime minister

  • Lusa
  • 3 November 2020

António Costa said science was "a real weapon" against ignorance and populism and that it has guided political decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, on Tuesday said science was “a real weapon” against ignorance and populism and that it has guided political decisions in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Science is a real weapon against false news and the best guarantee of victory over populism and negative attitudes towards the truth,” Costa said in a video message addressed to the opening of the Ciência ’20 meeting.

Scientific knowledge also benefits political decision-makers, he said, since scientific knowledge has never been so necessary because they have to make decisions almost in real-time, as science finds out more and more about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although scientific responses may not be immediate, citizens’ demand for well-founded decisions is immediate, he said.

“Thanks to science, we will surely overcome this crisis. Science will be able to find an effective treatment or vaccine to ensure immunisation. It will be able to discover the causes of this virus and prevent new pandemics like this in the future,” he said.

He added that scientific knowledge will be a key driver for Portugal’s economic recovery from the crisis caused by the pandemic, although the impact of Covid-19 will make it necessary to make changes.

Today, almost 44% of Gross Domestic Product comes from exports since today there are more products and more services that incorporate scientific knowledge, he said, adding that to reach 50% by the middle of this decade the country would need to apply this to more and more products and services to change the profile of the Portuguese economy.

Costa welcomed the fact that this year all records of new students entering higher education have been broken.

“Portuguese families, despite the anguish of the moment and the uncertainty in the future, know that it is by investing in their children’s education that they will be able to ensure a better future and contribute so that they can have more and better jobs,” he said.

European Cohesion Commissioner Elisa Ferreira said that the €13 billion in European funds for Portugal’s economic recovery from the post-covid crisis were a “huge impetus” for reforms in the country and stressed that the negotiation of the Portuguese recovery and resilience plan with Brussels was not yet finalised.

It is an opportunity, he said, for new generations to receive a healthier and cleaner planet.