The EIB Group supported 27 operations in Portugal for a total of 2.3 billion euros, equivalent to 1.2% of Portuguese GDP.
Portugal was the fourth European country to benefit the most from the European Investment Bank (EIB) support as a percentage of GDP in 2020. 2.33 billion were financed, a figure that represents an increase of 44% compared to 2019, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, vice-president of the bank and responsible for activity in the country, revealed Tuesday. Half of this support was dedicated to combating the effects of the pandemic on the economy.
The EIB supported 27 operations in Portugal for a total investment equivalent to 1.2% of Portuguese GDP. National SMEs still account for a significant part of the EIB’s activity in Portugal and “this could not be otherwise given the need and impact of Covid-19,” explained Mourinho Félix, stressing that the bank’s priorities in Portugal have varied over time. Thus, 72% of the bank’s activity was dedicated to SMEs in 2020, while in other years it was around 50%.
To mitigate the effects of the pandemic, the measures adopted by the EIB focused on supporting the health sector and SMEs. Ten operations were contracted in Portugal with a total volume of 1.3 billion euros, representing 56% of the EIB Group’s total financing activity in 2020. Portugal was thus the fourth country with the largest volume of funding provided for Covid-19 related projects.
Mourinho Félix also stressed the bank’s response to Covid-19 “has varied over time,” beginning in February/March with a decision to speed up approvals and payments, giving more support to SMEs and concentrating more investment in the health sector. Then, in April, the bank broadened the eligibility criteria and there was an increase in the amounts of funding.
In April there was an increase in the emergency support package, through support from the European Guarantee Fund, with 25 billion euros from member states, which is expected to mobilise up to 200 billion euros of investment. And in the health sector, there was a focus on companies in the biomedical areas, “with emphasis on the BioNtech vaccine development, which received 100 million euros from the EIB, not only for research, but also to expand laboratories so that they can produce vaccines on a large scale,” said the EIB’s vice president.
Mourinho Félix stressed that Portugal can “count on the EIB in 2021 to continue on this path of success,” and also revealed that “the EIB is already in talks with the Portuguese government, that is currently preparing its economic recovery strategy.”