Portugal can request Recovery and Resilience funds withheld by Brussels

 In Health and Wellness, News, Portugal RRP

Portugal’s government can now request €713 million — the third tranche of EU funding earmarked for the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP) which had been blocked.

According to the online news source ECO, the funds to modernise, digitalise and green up Portugal’s economy, will be released after four municipal councils agreed to accept government decentralisation of competencies within the public health sector.

The government’s goal was to ask for the €713 million that Brussels had not transferred because it said the negotiated targets and benchmarks regarding four local councils had not been met.

But last week negotiations were concluded with the municipal councils Ovar, Nelas, Alvaiázere and Óbidos – all councils run by the PSD social democrats – in order to achieve the targets defined, taking into account a margin of flexibility of 5% that the commission allows for all of its targets.

This week, according to the Mayor of Óbidos Municipal Council, Filipe Daniel, a team from the commission will be in Portugal to put the seal of approval on the councils meeting the goals set out by Brussels. Óbidos had been the last of the councils to agree to health sector decentralisation to local authorities.

As part of Portugal’s RRP plan, Brussels laid down that 201 councils that were not integrated into local health units should accept competencies in the area of health.

At the end of 2023 the EC paid Portugal €2.46Bn of the third and fourth tranches of the RRP, but withheld €713 million because it had failed to comply with three targets and benchmarks, two of which had not been met when the commission made its analysis.

These were: setting up centres of integrated responsibility in hospitals which came into force on January 1, and a law regarding regulated professions also came into force. The other failure was an inability to complete the process of decentralising healthcare competences to municipalities because negotiations with local authorities took longer than had been expected.