The European Union will support 17 ongoing research projects to find vaccines for the coronavirus, announced the Portuguese Prime Minister at the end of a European Council meeting that took place by video conference.
In his opening statement, the Prime Minister said that in this “very long” meeting, two decisions were made that he characterized as “important”, the first of which related to the “mandate that the Eurogroup was given within two weeks to present to the European Council the conditions for the mobilization of a line of the European Stability Instrument, for a total amount of EUR 240 billion, to finance Member States in combating the crisis caused by the outbreak of the new coronavirus “.
According to the Prime Minister, each Member State “can raise up to a limit of 2% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”, serving this line “to support the necessary investments in the health area, namely for the acquisition of equipment, but also to finance measures to support employment, income and business stabilization “.
The second “important” decision taken at this European Council, according to the executive's leader, was to mandate the presidents of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and of the Council, Charles Michel, in liaison with the other European institutions, “having with a view to starting to prepare a program for the recovery of the European economy for the post-crisis period “.
“Nobody knows yet the zero moment of the post-crisis period, but it is necessary to start preparing the future so that, as soon as the pandemic is controlled, we can go on lifting measures of home confinement and paralysis of economic activity, not getting lost time in relaunching the economy “, stressed the Prime Minister.
Still with regard to the economic and social consequences of the health crisis caused by the new coronavirus, António Costa stressed that there is currently a situation of “widespread paralysis at European level, with a strong pressure on employment and household income”.
“We have tried to act in a coordinated manner. As the Government did today when approving a set of measures to support businesses, employment and household income, we have all tried to act in a coordinated way at European level”, he said.
In this context, the Portuguese executive leader praised “the determined action of the European Central Bank (ECB) in order to control the risk of any sovereign debt crisis”.
“After an initial speculation about the value of the debts, there has been a calm in the markets and a sharp fall in the interest rate, not yet to the normal values we had in the pre-crisis moment, but a good downward trend that is essential to maintain “, he defended.
António Costa pointed as good examples the intervention of the ECB, first with the announcement of the mobilization of 750 billion euros for intervention in the market and, on Wednesday, by removing any restrictions on the acquisition of debt lines from different countries.
“It was the most important contribution so far in the European Union as a whole”, he maintained.
Other “equally important” contributions, in António Costa's perspective, were the decisions to relax the rules of the Stability Pact and those of competition that prohibit State aid.
In this way, according to the Prime Minister, Portugal has already been able to provide “State aid that has allowed the interest rate to be lowered on the three billion euros of credit lines that this week are being opened to support a set of sectors. economic hardest hit by the crisis “.
Of the decisions of this European Council, António Costa also highlighted “the creation of a 'task force' to accelerate the process of repatriation of European citizens scattered around the world”.
“We have already managed to ensure the repatriation of about 640 Portuguese people who were scattered all over the place. At this moment, we estimate that we have about three thousand still abroad, many of them dispersed,” he said.
The heads of state and government of the European Union, according to António Costa, also decided to call on the Commission “to speed up all procedures for the purchase of medical equipment and personal protective equipment”, and to reinforce the budget “for the constitution of a reserve stock at European level “for this equipment.