Early December, I was in Lisbon, where I had the pleasure to sign the modification of eleven 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes. I also had the opportunity to exchange views on post-2020 cohesion policy with Portuguese authorities, including the Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Pedro Marques, Minister for Planning in charge of cohesion policy and public infrastructures.
On December 6th, I took part in a hearing in the Portuguese National Parliament, where I seized the opportunity to speak about the European Commission’s proposal for beyond 2020. I underlined that this proposal continues to preserve cohesion policy as a policy for all regions, with a strong focus on the poorest. I also highlighted our efforts to simplify the policy and increase its flexibility, making it more modern and impactful.
I also commended the Portuguese authorities for their good cooperation with the European Commission and for their great achievements: Portugal is indeed a country with one of the highest project selection rates in Europe. I also asked the members of the Portuguese Parliament to progress rapidly on the adoption of the Commission’s proposals for post-2020, as delayed adoption means delayed programmes. I am confident that we can avoid this and keep up the good work.
The following day, in the presence of Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Minister Pedro Marques, I signed the modification of eleven 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes. These programme modifications enable the reattribution of resources, so that they can better match the needs on the ground, especially when new challenges have arisen. 2.7 billion euros were redirected towards priorities defined by the Portuguese government, including: innovation in SMEs (688 million euros), skills and training (931 million euros), support to employment and entrepreneurship (256 million euros), clean urban mobility (285 million euros) and social infrastructure (627 million euros). Thereby, thanks to the reprogramming of Portugal's cohesion budget, the country will be able to continue implementing structural reforms and ensure the sustainability of public finances while investing for the future.
Overall, my visit to Portugal was another chapter in a long story: the story of the European Union and Portugal working together to help the country thrive, thanks to cohesion policy. I can only wish for this amazing cooperation between the EU and Portugal to continue, so the latter can deliver high quality projects in the future and improve the daily life of the Portuguese people.