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Portugal says vital to open 'green pathways' to reach EU recovery fund deal - Metro US

Portugal says vital to open ‘green pathways’ to reach EU recovery fund deal

German Chancellor Merkel and Portugal's PM Costa meet in Berlin

LISBON (Reuters) – Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Friday it was important that all European Union nations open “green pathways” so a deal on the bloc’s 750 billion euro recovery fund can be reached next month.

“This is not the moment to draw red lines, it is the moment to open green pathways to a deal in July,” Costa told a news conference after a videoconference meeting of the 27 EU government leaders to discuss the European Commission proposal.

The EU executive has proposed borrowing 750 billion euros from the market to replenish a new recovery fund to help revive European economies hardest hit by coronavirus, particularly Italy and Spain.

“We view the proposal from the Commission as intelligent and balanced,” Costa said after the meeting.

Portugal, whose export-oriented, tourism-dependent economy has also been seriously damaged by the coronavirus crisis, would receive 26.5 billion euros ($29.73 billion) from the fund, composed of 15.5 billion euros in non-repayable grants and 10.9 billion in loans.

The 27 leaders did not resolve differences on Friday over how to structure the fund, with the balance of loans and grants still to be agreed, the Commission president said. {nB5N28S01F]

The Portuguese central bank forecast on Tuesday that GDP would contract 9.5% in 2020, the biggest drop in economic activity since the 1930s Great Depression.

With 38,089 confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,524 deaths, Portugal has kept its case toll comparatively low.

But with several hundred new cases detected per day in the past month, some European countries have limited entry to travellers from Portugal, prompting the foreign ministry to declare on Thursday it “reserved the right” to reciprocate with its own restrictions.

Costa said it was not “the practice of Portugal to retaliate” but that its high testing rate – ranking sixth in Europe in the number of tests per million inhabitants – had led to the impression of more cases than countries doing less tests.

“Countries which do a third or half of the tests Portugal does cannot compare to Portugal,” Costa said.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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