Portugal needs “some” EU funds before 2015

Portugal wants to speed up negotiations with Brussels in order to begin receiving European community funds before 2015 and start boosting its economy as soon as possible.
May’s European elections are also one of the reasons why the government is working extra hard to conclude negotiations – new commissioners taking office could slow down the negotiation process, said Miguel Poiares Maduro, the Minister for Regional Development.
“Our goal is to receive these funds by the second half of this year,” the Secretary of State for Regional Development Manuel Castro Almeida told Dinheiro Vivo online newspaper.
The EU has €21 billion set aside for Portugal for the next five years (2015-2020) in a new programme named Acordo de Parceria Portugal 2020, which will replace the current QREN programme.
One of the main plans included in the programme is the creation a new public-law development bank – the Instituição Financeira de Desenvolvimento (IFD) – which will provide credit to businesses, “thus boosting the economy and encouraging job creation”.
“We (the government) are doing everything we can to get this programme running as soon as possible,” the secretary of state said.
In just three months, the government created the Agency for Development and Cohesion, tasked with the job fulfilled by three agencies under the previous QREN programme.
“We created this agency to have a more integrated management of Europeans funds,” Castro Almeida stated, stressing that the government will also save money and resources with a single agency in charge of the funds.
No more money for roads
Meanwhile, news emerged that only 1% of the upcoming EU funds for Portugal is directed towards the construction or improvement of roads and related infrastructures – meaning that the conclusion of the renovation work on the infamous EN125 road in the Algarve is still far from being a reality.
However, Castro Almeida believes that Portugal could benefit from building “smaller roads” – no longer than 10kms – to connect industrial and business areas to the national road network. According to him, “it would help increase company competitiveness”.