Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission approved Portugal’s aid scheme worth 23 billion euro to support the country’s social, economic and territorial cohesion.
The money will help Portugal to develop its economy and focus on digital and green transitions, in line with EU priorities, the Commission stressed in a statement on Thursday.
The body added that the scheme will also help Portugal to close the gap in development between urban and rural areas, and between regions, especially with regard to access to essential services.
The Commission noted that 11.5 billion euro from the EU Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) will go towards boosting competitiveness of regions, of which 5.3 billion is allocated for innovation, research, expansion of digital infrastructure and digitalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
ERDF money will also go towards modernisation of regional and local administration with the aim of improving digital accessibility of public services.
Support for Green Deal investments
The EC noted that roughly 5.5 billion euro from the ERDF, the EU Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) and the Cohesion Fund will go towards EU Green Deal projects including development of circular economy, protection of biodiversity and more.
Approximately 224 million euro from the Just Transition Fund will help Portugal to support its territories hit hardest by the green push – to minimise negative effects on the economy and society, create employment opportunities and more.
Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, pointed out that the move “lays out our strategic commitment to rekindle growth on a more inclusive, sustainable and digital path.”
“Cohesion Policy funding will help unlock the potential of every region to promote innovation, create jobs and reap the benefits of the green and digital transitions,” she added and concluded that focus will be on balanced territorial development.
Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, expressed belief that the agreement with Portugal will help the EU member state to support workers “and provide them with the skills they need to navigate in today’s and tomorrow’s labour market.”
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, pointed out that Portugal’s scheme will help “to reinforce the economic and social vitality of coastal communities.”