Investing in the environment – the answer to Portugal’s crises
Since joining the European Union, Portugal has been one of the main net recipients of EU funds. In 2010 Portugal was the 5th top recipient (receiving EUR 2.5 billion), while having been an EU member state for more than 20 years.
The EU Budget is an investment fund that seeks to coordinate action throughout the EU to leverage European objectives. However, Portugal’s use of EU funds has had no long-term impact on the EU’s financial stability, becoming the 3rd Member State to seek financial aid. Portugal’s spending priorities has been largely connected to large and costly infrastructure. As a result of its economic crisis, Portugal has been unable to co-finance several of its planned infrastructure projects in the current programming period, further limiting its ability to spend EU funds.
Largely ignoring the evident link between ecosystem services that are provided for free and their economic value, Portugal has turned a blind eye to the potential use of European funds for achieving economic prosperity through environmental investments.
In prioritising its local environment, Portugal would invest in an inexpensive and cost effective tool that would benefit local economies while leveraging European money. European tax payer’s money should be invested in public goods and nature and biodiversity are good options as they are at the heart of local communities.