“After years of EU support, Portugal still a backward country”, says commissioner

“After all the years of EU support, Portugal is still a backward country”, European commissioner Elisa Ferreira said during an online debate this week, stressing that the application of ‘bazooka’ funding to help Portugal recover from the coronavirus pandemic “must be radically different from the reproduction of the past”.

It will “have to be much more environmental, much more digital, and much more balanced, socially and spatially”, she said.

On a national level it’s time for the country “to think what it wants to be”.

If it doesn’t, said the commissioner responsible for Cohesion and Reforms, then Portugal runs the risk of continuing to figure among countries ‘in transition’ and will be “overtaken by many other Member States”.

Ms Ferreira pointed out that GDP per head in Portugal is “extraordinarily low or very low”. No matter how much Lisbon grows the rest of the country is too far behind to allow Portugal to ‘take off’.

In other words, the commissioner explained, this pandemic emergency has created an opportunity: the EU has done something it has “never done before” in releasing billions for reforms in a way that allows States to decide how to use them. The onus now is on States making the right choices.

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