Antonio Tajani, European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, was in Portugal, Friday, for a Mission for Growth with 800 entrepreneurs from Portugal, Europe and third countries. Tajani met the President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva to address the economic crisis and discuss the need for growth policies to boost domestic demand and increase industrial competitiveness.
Tajani disclosed the main lines of the strategy for the reindustrialisation that the European Commission intends to present at the European Council of February, which will be dedicated to Industry. He also explained the basis for the Mission for Growth organised in the EU member states; which are are meant to attract investment, and create new business opportunities in areas where unemployment achieved unsustainable levels, in particular among young people.
During the mission, Tajani was accompanied by a delegation of 200 companies from the EU and third countries, which met the other 600 local companies interested in business opportunities in key sectors for the Portuguese economy, such as tourism, agroindustry, energy, shipbuilding or biotechnology. 2000 bilateral meetings among participating companies have been organised in order to facilitate networking, information exchange and partnerships. The Mission for Growth in Portugal was announced on the 5th of October at the Forum on Entrepreneurship in the Algarve, when the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso asked Tajani to organise this initiative.
Tajani discussed the new financial tools to support enterprises, including the COSME program, which increases the resources dedicated to SMEs for access to credit and competitiveness. The 71 billion programme for research and innovation, Horizon 2020, together with the possibility of using more regional funds for SMEs, will also give a strong impetus to growth and competitiveness. With COSME and other EU funds, and the European Investment Bank, the Portuguese SMEs will benefit from credit lines for a few billion Euros over the next seven years.
He said: “Europe must show its proximity to Portugal, supporting its efforts to overcome the crisis and boost employment. This mission for growth, with meetings among 800 enterprises coming from Portugal, Europe and third countries, is a concrete sign of the Commission to attract investments. Without industry and SMEs,” Tajani continued, “Portugal will not be able achieve growth and create jobs. Therefore, it is essential to work on the real economy, with more access to credit, timely payments by public administrations and more European investments in the competitiveness of Portuguese companies.”
The Commissioner also had a series of meetings with representatives of the Portuguese Government, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Paulo Portas; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Rui Machete, the Minister of Economy, António Pires de Lima and the Secretary of State for Innovation, Investment and Competitiveness, Pedro Goncalvez. Tajani met with the Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Magdalena Álvarez, to talk about access to credit and support to SMEs in Portugal.