Portugal pushes for Brussels’ “bazooka” as MEPs warn: ‘It may not get here before 2022”

Portugal is ramping up the pressure on Brussels to come to a decision on the ‘bazooka’ Recovery Fund designed to help countries overcome the economic effects of the pandemic.

On Monday, prime minister António Costa met with Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez in Lisbon, ostensibly to coordinate the southern countries ‘position’ ahead of a key summit of the European Council next week.

Said Sanchez at the ensuing joint press conference: “It’s crucial that all EU leaders recognize that the month of July has to be the month we get an agreement”.

Today (Tuesday), Italian prime minister Guiseppe Conte arrived in Lisbon for talks with Mr Costa. Says Associated Press, tomorrow he will be in Madrid.

“Southern European countries are mounting a show of strength”, explains the news agency, “as negotiations over how much money they get from the EU and in what form comes to a crunch”.

With all the focus on the pandemic, very little has been said recently about this subject which is so crucial for so many struggling countries’.

The “crunch” aspect is the fact that northern ‘frugals’ are still balking at the prospect of handing over wads of cash without any need for repayment (click here).

If Expresso has its figures right, “an envelope close to €35.8 billion euros for Portugal just in subsidies is on the table. This works out at close to €3,500 per Portuguese citizen…”

The total is “an increase in the order of 60% of what the Portuguese receive today in the form of the Portugal 2020 programme” – but that’s ONLY if the Franco-German proposal for the Recovery Fund is successful. And that’s a big ‘if’.

But with all the millions and billions sloshing about, there is another issue: timing.

Expresso stressed over the weekend that Euro MPs “have warned of a delay in the arrival of the Recovery Fund”.

In a story headlined: “Millions may only arrive in 2022”, the paper stresses PS MEPs are also working from their end to try and ‘accelerate’ the process.

Margarida Marques told the paper that 2022 is simply ‘much too late’. For the Recovery Fund to be relevant, the millions have to come through next year.

PM Costa also stated the obvious at Monday’s press conference – saying the consequences of Covid-19 have been “devastating” for EU economies.

Devastating consequences require prompt response. Thus the ‘pressure’ building in the hope the frugals’ laments – about money that they would like to see paid back – are drowned out.

The summit is scheduled for Friday and Saturday next week (July 17-18). Expresso has carried a table explaining how the subsidies are envisaged. Portugal is actually 8th on the list to receive the largest package in ‘absolute terms’ behind Italy, Spain, Poland, France, Romania, Germany and Greece.

But this is all dependent on ‘final decisions’ and the fact that the frugals may well query why the Franco-German proposal puts both France and Germany in such enviable positions (in absolute terms, France in 4th position is set to receive €54.2 billion, Germany, in slot six, €44.7 billion) when the frugals are right down at the bottom.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com