European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis believes that the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan, to access post-crisis funds, is “fully in line” with EU priorities, after “intense discussions” between Brussels and Lisbon.
“The three pillars that are present in the Portuguese plan are, I would say, fully in line with the objectives of the recovery and resilience mechanism, ensuring the green, and digital transformation of the economy, strengthening the resilience of the economy and even addressing the country-specific recommendations under the European Semester,” says Valdis Dombrovskis, in an interview with Lusa news agency in Brussels.
Congratulating the country for “being the first to submit its Recovery and Resilience Plan” (RRP) to Brussels about a fortnight ago, he points out that “the plan is structured around the three pillars of resilience, climate and digital transformation, with a wide range of measures on social housing, energy efficiency of buildings and digital schooling.”
“We have been in intense discussions with the Portuguese authorities – I have had numerous contacts with the ministers of finance and planning [João Leão and Nelson de Souza] in these preparations – and so now we will make the assessment,” he said.
Valdis Dombrovskis still rejects making any “specific assessment” or “pre-assessment” on the Portuguese plan, given that the assessment is ongoing.
In mid-April, Portugal submitted its Recovery and Resilience Plan to the European Commission, becoming the first EU member state to deliver the final version, totalling 16.6 billion euros, of which 13.9 billion euros are non-repayable grants.
At stake is the Recovery and Resilience Facility, valued at €672.5 billion (at 2018 prices) and a central element of the “Next Generation EU”, the €750 billion fund approved by EU leaders in July 2020, the main instruments for the EU’s economic recovery from the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
To access the mechanism, EU countries have to submit to Brussels their RRPs setting out their reform and investment programmes until 2026, and the indicative deadline for this was last Friday.
So far, 14 of the 27 member states have submitted their plans.
“In the coming days and weeks we expect more to arrive, [but] what I would like to emphasize is that, as we have been telling member states, the most important thing is the quality of the plans,” he added.
The Commission has two months to assess the plans and the Council has one month, but the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council has already said that it is working to speed up approval, and thus the first plans will have the ‘green light’ at the Ecofin Council (which brings together finance ministers) on 18 June.