EU Cohesion Policy: €23 billion for the economic and social development of Portugal in 2021-2027

Under the Partnership Agreement, concluded between the Commission and Portugal, €23 billion will be made available to support the economic, social and territorial cohesion in Portugal until the end of the decade.

These funds will help develop a more diversified, innovative and competitive economy, with a strong focus on the green and digital transition of the country, in line with key EU priorities. The funds will also promote balanced territorial development between different regions and between rural and urban areas, notably to ensure a better access to essential services.

A competitive, green and digital economy

With €11.5 billion the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) will boost the competitiveness of the Portuguese regions. From this amount, €5.3 billion will strengthen the research and innovation ecosystem, the digitalisation of small and medium businesses, and bring fast broadband connection across the territory. ERDF funds will also modernise the local and regional administration to improve access to public services via digital means.

The ERDF, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) will dedicate €5.5 billion to the implementation of the European Green Deal by developing a circular and sustainable economy and an environmentally friendly transport system and preserving the biodiversity.

With €224 million the Just Transition Fund (JTF) will help the Portuguese territories most affected by the climate transition to cope with its social and economic negative impacts, to diversify their economies and create new employment opportunities and skills development.

Socially inclusive economic development

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will invest €7.8 billion to improve access to the labour market, in particular through measures combining social and employment support and work experience, up and re-skilling, quality education, vocational training and career guidance. The fight against poverty and social exclusion will also be supported, in particular through food and material assistance, including for children, thereby contributing to implement the European Child Guarantee.

Enhanced support for the outermost regions

The EU will invest more than €1.9 billion in the outermost regions (Açores and Madeira). From this amount, more than €200 million will be used to improve the connectivity of the islands (transport services) and the transport infrastructure (ports, airports and urban mobility).

The ESF+, in particular, will reduce territorial disparities in access to healthcare, education and social services.

Sustainable fishery

Around €400 million from the EMFAF will facilitate the ecological transition of the fishing and aquaculture sectors of Portugal, as well as the blue economy. The funding will help bringing seafood and aquaculture products in line with the expectations of consumers to have sustainable food choices, sustain small-scale coastal fishing, improve the sector’s resilience and boost take-up of innovative solutions to the challenges of today.

Members of the College said:

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: “The Partnership Agreement with Portugal lays out our strategic commitment to rekindle growth on a more inclusive, sustainable and digital path. Cohesion Policy funding will help unlock the potential of every region to promote innovation, create jobs and reap the benefits of the green and digital transitions. It will contribute to resume a convergence course with European levels. A particular attention will be given to a balanced territorial development, including in the outermost regions of Açores and Madeira.”

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, added: “With this Partnership Agreement, Portugal makes a crucial step towards meeting its national targets set in line with the Social Pillar Action Plan. The European Social Fund Plus will support workers and provide them with the skills they need to navigate in today’s and tomorrow’s labour market. I also welcome Portugal prioritises providing equal access to jobs and training and investments in the social inclusion of children in line with the European Child Guarantee.”

Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “This Partnership Agreement will help Portugal to build a resilient, sustainable and low-carbon fisheries and aquaculture sector as well as to reinforce the economic and social vitality of coastal communities. The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund provides possibility for Portugal to support innovative projects in fisheries and aquaculture sector that contribute to the decarbonisation of our economy and to sustainable exploitation and management of aquatic and maritime resources. This fund also enables Portugal to respond to the current and future crisis by mitigating their impact in fisheries and aquaculture sector.”