European Commission meets the Portuguese government
The College of Commissioners received today a delegation of the Portuguese government, led by Prime Minister Passos Coelho. Discussions focused on the Portuguese adjustment programme and the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union. The EU's industrial policy and the competitiveness agenda, as well as the next EU budget, were also on the table.
President Barroso assured Prime Minister Passos Coelho of the European Commission's continuous support to Portugal during the crisis. He said that measures such as extension of deadlines, lower interest rates and a better use of structural funds, have already eased the impact of the country's adjustment programme.
The President also congratulated the Portuguese government on its efforts to complete the adjustment programme and to bring the country onto its right path. The reform programme is a necessary precondition for a sustainable return to the markets.
For the first time in two years, the Portuguese economy has grown, reaching +1,1% of growth in the second trimester of the 2013. In its autumn forecast the Commission confirmed that Portugal's GDP in 2013 has fallen less than expected. Portugal is also gaining market share in exports for the third consecutive year. "We can’t put at risk everything we have achieved", the President said.
Unemployment is still a major concern, the President noted. The President also mentioned modernisation of the Portuguese industry, specifically the creation of new companies, led by younger and more qualified entrepreneurs.
President Barroso believes that Portugal will come out of the crisis stronger. Growth, the President said, has to be grounded on structural reforms and less on external debt. He also emphasised the fact that Portugal needs to regain confidence, proving that the country is able to meet its obligations. For that purpose, a broad political and social consensus is essential.
Competitiveness reforms were also discussed. For the European Commission the financing of the economy is a priority, as access to credit remains too limited. The deepening of the EMU and measures to fight unemployment and create new jobs were also discussed.
The President announced that Portugal is set to benefit from 19.6 billion euros for investment in the frame of the EU budget for 2014-2020.