At the door of the D 'Bacalhau restaurant, where he was going to have lunch with the management of AHRESP (Association of Hotel, Restaurant and Similar Establishments of Portugal) in yet another attempt to pack the Portuguese in the middle of the sector's lack of definition, António Costa began by seeing in the Franco-French agreement. German for a European economic recovery plan “an excellent proposal”, but a minute later he warned that “there are several if's to be clarified”. In particular, whether it is a loan or a transfer as with Community funds.
The prime minister is walking this week on a journey of lack of definition, either for trade or restoration – already on Monday he had lunch with the President of the Assembly of the Republic in Bairro Alto – but without promises. Not even about what the sector is most complaining about: the TSU exemption this year, the decrease in VAT to 6% next year or a date for the total reopening, that is, to have the capacity of pre-Covid time.
500 billion “lost fund”. Germany and France reach agreement on recovery fund
But there, at the door of another restaurant and even before lunch, the Prime Minister did not guarantee that this would happen quickly to the Association's vice president, Carlos Moura, who was right behind. He has the “wish” that it can happen next month, but without guarantees. As for the other proposals, from the parties and partners, he says only that they will be analyzed in the coming days. Faking the direct question that came from journalists about whether he would be available to reduce VAT on catering.
The question about the statements in Parliament of his Minister of Infrastructure, Pedro Nuno Santos, who did not exclude the insolvency scenario when asked about the future of TAP, was also the same destination. "I don't comment on statements I don't know." There are a thousand ways to make cod, a thousand ways for António Costa to escape the questions that bother him the most, and there are still a thousand ways to get European money. But in this dish, the prime minister already puts the spoon.
He considers that the Franco-German plan for the recovery of the European Union is "an excellent proposal" to look for "robust mechanisms" and that it allows "to increase strategic autonomy" of the member states. But Costa also says that "there are several if's to clarify". “It remains to be seen how this money is distributed among the different member states, under the terms of community funds, with transfers, or whether it will be on loan” and warns that the loan model “would make it very difficult” for some countries to access “in level playing field. ” In addition, this recovery fund “has to be an added ambition over the normal multi-annual financing framework so it cannot mean cutting cohesion or investing for competitiveness”.
Over lunch, on his official Twitter he said he had a “conversation with Macron”, the French president classifying this agreement as “a good contribution to the European response to the crisis” and on how that Fund “has to reinforce the ambition of the next budget of the Union ”.
The new Recovery Fund must reinforce the ambition of the Union's next budget, without sacrificing the Cohesion Policy and the Budgetary Instrument for Convergence and Competitiveness, as the embryo of a future budgetary capacity in the Eurozone.
– António Costa (@antoniocostapm) May 19, 2020
Its red lines are fixed and also its opinion on countries like Holland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden, that already came to talk about the new plan demanding that it is a loan and not a transfer fund. “28 (Costa continues to slip in Brexit, which has already reduced this number) cannot be made irreducible and if we were irreducible we would say that 500 billion are not enough”, the four countries must “follow the example of the remaining 23”, “ constructive spirit and openness to dialogue ”to make a position compatible.
After all, the proposal is not so “excellent” after all: “Not being the ideal proposal, it is a good sign that the capacity for commitment and the will to move forward, there is no irreducibility or red lines”. The Prime Minister “loved that the compromise was already reached tomorrow” and that if it is June 20, the date of the next European Council, it would also serve. “If it is after 20 June, worse. It was what was needed for the Council that did not know to be up to the challenge ”, he concluded before entering the restaurant, with a well composed terrace, for lunch.