EU cohesion policy: €23 billion for Portugal’s economic and social development in 2021-2027 – Regional policy

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

A competitive, green and digital economy

Endowed with 11.5 billion euros, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will boost the competitiveness of Portuguese regions. Of this amount, 5.3 billion euros will strengthen the research and innovation ecosystem, the digitization of small and medium-sized enterprises and will provide a fast broadband connection throughout the territory. ERDF funds will also help modernize 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 (EMFFA) will devote 5.5 billion euros to the implementation of the European Green Deal by developing a circular and sustainable economy and a transport system that respects the environment and preserves biodiversity.

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

Socially inclusive economic development

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) will invest €7.8 billion to improve access to the labor market, in particular through measures combining social and employment support and professional experience, upgrading and retraining, education quality, vocational training and vocational guidance. The fight against poverty and social exclusion will also be supported, in particular through food and material aid, including for children, thus contributing to the implementation of the European Child Guarantee.

Reinforced support for the outermost regions

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

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

Sustainable fishing

Around €400 million from Feampa will facilitate the ecological transition of the fishing and aquaculture sectors in Portugal, as well as the blue economy. Funding will help align seafood and aquaculture products with consumer expectations for sustainable food choices, support small-scale coastal fisheries, improve sector resilience and drive adoption of solutions innovative to today’s challenges.

College members said:

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreirasaid: “The partnership agreement with Portugal defines our strategic commitment to relaunch growth on a more inclusive, sustainable and digital path. Cohesion policy funding will help unlock the potential of each region to promote innovation, create jobs and take advantage of green and digital transitions. It will contribute to regaining a course of convergence with European levels. Particular attention will be given to balanced territorial development, including in the outermost regions of the Azores and Madeira.

Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas schmitadded: “With this partnership agreement, Portugal is taking a crucial step towards achieving its national objectives set in accordance with the Social Pillar Action Plan. The European Social Fund Plus will support workers and provide them with the skills they need to navigate today’s and tomorrow’s labor market. I also welcome Portugal’s priorities in terms of equal access to employment and training and investments in the social inclusion of children in line with the European Child Guarantee.”

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkeviciussaid: “This partnership agreement will help Portugal build a resilient, sustainable and low-carbon fisheries and aquaculture sector, as well as strengthen the economic and social vitality of coastal communities. The European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund offers Portugal the opportunity to support innovative projects in the fisheries and aquaculture sector that contribute to the decarbonisation of our economy and to the exploitation and sustainable management of aquatic and maritime resources. This fund also allows Portugal to respond to the current and future crisis by mitigating its impact on the fisheries and aquaculture sector.


The partnership agreement covers the cohesion policy funds (ERDF; ESF+, the Cohesion Fund, the JTF), as well as the EMFF. It paves the way for the implementation of these investments on the ground through 5 national programs, 7 regional programs and 11 INTERREG programs (concerning cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation).

Furthermore, the Partnership Agreement reflects Portugal’s strong commitment to the coordinated use of Cohesion Policy funds with the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Within the framework of the cohesion policy, and in cooperation with the Commission, each Member State prepares a partnership agreement, a strategic document for the programming of the investments of the funds of the cohesion policy and the Feampa during the multiannual financial framework. It focuses on EU priorities, setting out the strategy and investment priorities identified by the Member State. It presents a list of national and regional programs to be implemented on the ground, including the indicative annual financial allocation for each programme.

The 2021-2027 partnership agreement with Portugal is the 14th to be adopted after those of Greece, Germany, Austria, Czechia, Lithuania, Finland, Denmark, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Joel C. Hicks