“What happens to the country depends a lot on the success of the North”

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The prime-minister, António Costa, said today, at the North 2030 Strategy Seminar, in Santa Maria da Feira, that “what happens to the country depends a lot on the success” of the North, referring to its economy and innovative and exporting dynamics.

“The North is, effectively, a fundamental engine of economic growth, of investment in research and development, of innovation, of export capacity. Therefore, what happens to the country as a whole obviously depends a lot on the success of this region,” said António Costa at the close of the morning session, which took place at Europarque, in Santa Maria da Feira (Aveiro district).

In front of a full audience at the congress center, António Costa had already pointed out that the Operational Program (OP) Norte 2030, presented today to thousands of mayors, public administration employees, companies, and members of the scientific community, “is by far the regional OP with the most weight”, estimating it at 43% “of the total funds allocated to regional OPs”.

António Costa considered this proportion as something “decisive for the country”, given the importance of the North in the national context.

“This Norte 2030 strategy and its three ‘is’ – industrialization, internationalization, and innovation – are particularly aligned with what are the great objectives, also, of development at a national level in the 2030 horizon,” stressed the head of government.

António Costa recalled that “the first major goal is to ensure a decade of convergence with the European Union,” leading to Portugal having to grow for 10 consecutive years above the European average.

“This is how it has been since 2016,” with the exception of 2020 due to the covid-19 pandemic, he pointed out, wanting to ensure that Portugal continues to “catch up with the most developed countries.”

“For this, the convergence of the Northern region with the country as a whole is also absolutely decisive, because one of the factors that has allowed us to converge with the European Union has been, precisely, the fact that the Northern region is also converging with the country as a whole,” he said.

António Costa recalled that the North “was one of the regions most affected by the competitive shock that the country suffered at the turn of the century, and that caused the North region to regress, in terms of convergence, for many years.

“It is now in a strong process of acceleration, it was already visible in 2019, and unfortunately no one will be able to know what would have happened if we hadn’t had covid. The truth is that after covid, it has clearly picked up that pace, and that is absolutely fundamental,” he stressed.

Thus, to achieve convergence, “the strategy must be able to support it”, based on the 25% increase in exporting companies and the modernization of the national productive fabric, as well as increasing the qualifications of the population, he said.

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