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Lusa - Business News - Portugal: European Commission president assures country of solidarity in crisis

Brussels, Sept.28,2020(Lusa) - The president of the European Commission has assured Portugal that "the European Union is in solidarity with" the country in the face of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that this is demonstrated by the fact that it is set to be a major beneficiary of the EU's Recovery Fund.
In an interview with Lusa on the eve of her first official visit to Portugal as president of the EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen said in written responses to the agency's questions that "Portuguese citizens have fought very courageously and with discipline against the virus and have even been more successful than others". The country can, she said, count on the support of the EU, which will also help to "boost" its economy.
"The European Union will ensure that the Portuguese people, European citizens and people around the world have access to a future vaccine," von der Leyen said. "And the EU will also stand by the Portuguese in recovering from the economic crisis."
Asserting that 'Next Generation EU', the fund proposed by her executive and agreed by member states at a lengthy summit last July, gives the Union "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 noted that "Portugal will be an important beneficiary".
According to the agreement reached in July, Portugal is to receive €15.3 billion in grants, including €13.2 billion euros between now and 2023 via the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the fund's main instrument.
According to the commission president, the support Portugal is to receive "will provide the means to boost the recovery of the Portuguese economy, based on the dual ecological and digital transition, while ensuring that nobody is left behind."
Asked about the particular impact that the Covid-19 crisis had on Portugal, as one of the countries whose economy is most dependent on tourism - one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic - von der Leyen notes that "all member states, both large and small, those that are economically stronger and less strong, have felt their vulnerability during this crisis.
"The current crisis has affected all Member States, albeit differently, and we must work hard to make our economies more resilient to external shocks," she says in the interview.
According to von der Leyen, 'Next Generation EU' is designed to take account of these differences" 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 by individual Member States which restrict free movement due to the coronavirus pandemic are coordinated and clearly communicated at EU level," she went on. "We hope that this proposal can be adopted soon by the governments of the Union."
That is a reference to the commission's efforts to safeguard the Schengen free-movement area and so also protect the tourism sector, which has been particularly affected by border closures and other restrictions that member states have taken unilaterally since March.
Von der Leyen is to arrive in Lisbon on Monday for a two-day visit, the first since she took office in December 2019. On Tuesday she is, with the prime minister, António Costa, to attend a session at the Champalimaud Foundation, at which they are to present the EU and Portuguese plans for economic recovery, respectively.
Before that session, Costa and von der Leyen are to pay a visit to the Ricardo Jorge Institute, an institution that has been at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus in Portugal.
During her time in Portugal, von der Leyen is also to take part on Tuesday, at the invitation of Portugals's president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in a meeting of the Council of State, his top advisory panel, which is to discuss the situation and future of Europe. The meeting is scheduled to take place at a presidential palace in Cascais, west of Lisbon.


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2020-09-29 09:19:00


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