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Lisbon, Jan. 12, 2021 (Lusa) - European Commissioner Elisa Ferreira, who spoke today in Portugal's parliament, heard praise and criticism from Portuguese legislators and stressed the role of parliaments in "scrutinising the application of European funds".

At the hearing of the European Affairs Committee on the European Commission's Work Programme for 2021, which took place on Tuesday in Parliament, Elisa Ferreira addressed "colleagues" - recalling her years as a member of parliament here - and highlighted the "huge opportunity" generated by the pandemic crisis. Quoting the musician Sérgio Godinho, she said: "This is probably and in some way the first year of the rest of our lives".

Optimistic, the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms had "a glint in her eye" for the future, but outlined responsibilities. "We will need parliaments to scrutinise and monitor the application of the funds so that they are used for the benefit of citizens", she stressed to Portuguese members of parliament, the parliament and the Madeira and Azores regional parliaments, some present in the house and others connected remotely.

In her speech, Margarida Marques (Socialist) followed the Commissioner's call. They urged parliament to ratify its own resources mechanism "quickly" which will allow the European Commission to issue debt on behalf of member states. "Portugal will receive the largest financial envelope ever", she said.

Ferreira also recognised the importance of analysing "regional disparities" within the European Union, the response to which was "asymmetric protection" to "promote economic, social and territorial cohesion".

The Commission will propose a "long-term vision for rural areas, to harness their full potential", she said. "I have been urging the Member States to adopt regionally sensitive policies", she stressed.

She also raised questions on the pandemic and vaccination, digital, climate change, worker protection, regional support policies, and fisheries and agriculture.

She welcomed the government's enthusiasm for the conference on the future of Europe, for which it "woke up late", stressing that "the Commission and parliament are ready [for this], the Council is now missing".

Paulo Rangel also called for a response to the situation in Cabo Delgado, criticising the European Commission, which "has done nothing really about the Mozambique issue" and calling on the Portuguese government to take advantage of the fact that it will be in charge of the presidency of the Council of the EU until the end of June.

He also referred to the "crisis in the management of Schengen", considering that, in terms of migration, "Portugal has been unambitious in the presidency of the Council of the EU and the Commission has been too ambitious in its programme".

Hee considered that the proposal for a new Asylum and Migration Pact "was not humanist" and stressed that "Covid-19 must not infringe the rule of law or cover authoritarian policies".

The controversy surrounding José Guerra's appointment to the European Public Prosecutor's Office came to the fore through the voices of two members of parliament, Isabel Meireles (PSD) and João Almeida (CDS-PP), and Nuno Melo, a CDS-PP MEP, who questioned Elisa Ferreira on the European Commission's commitment to "zero fraud" in the face of a "very shameful violation" of the rule of law.

Nuno Melo even compared what the reaction would be like if it was Viktor Orbánwhere instead of António Costa and Hungary instead of Portugal. "What would not be written, complaining, asking?" he asked.

Ferreira did not evade the issue and began the answers right there, stressing that the matter "is within the Council, the appropriate body to analyse the situation".

The Commission's intervention could be invoked if there were grounds for another institution to comment on the matter. She admitted, adding, "There is no decision taken [in that sense], let us wait for developments".

The left-wing parties raised many comments on the Social Pillar and the European Commission's proposals on work and employment, children's rights, gender inequality.

Bruno Dias (Communist) pointed out that there was a protest by Petrogal workers against the closure of the Matosinhos refinery.

In terms of praise (which Elisa Ferreira considered "excessive"), European investment that allowed vaccination in record time was most frequently mentioned.

At a time when the pandemic is forcing the use of digital technologies for this type of meeting, member of parliament Maria Manuel Leitão Marques asked the president of the European Affairs Committee, Capoulas Santos, to complain, because "it is impossible to connect to parliament" from the European Parliament. "We speak from all parts of the world except for our parliament", she complained.

SBR/ADB // ADB.

Lusa


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-01-13 10:59:26







 

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