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President Ursula von der Leyen welcomes the first official submission of a recovery and resilience plan by Portugal

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President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Across Europe, we can see vaccination campaigns accelerating. In parallel, it is now all the more important to launch NextGenerationEU. Economic recovery must go hand in hand with an improved health situation on the ground. I welcome Portugal‘s recovery and resilience plan as the first one officially submitted to the Commission. The submission marks the beginning of a new phase in the process of implementing the Recovery and Resilience Facility. The Commission looks forward to assessing the Portuguese plan, which focuses on resilience, climate and digital transitions and includes projects in almost all of the European flagship areas.

"We will continue to engage intensively with member states to help them deliver high quality plans. Our goal remains to adopt all plans by the summer. For the first payments to be made, we need all member states to have approved the Own Resources Decision. I am confident that all will be in place by the summer.”

The recovery and resilience plan of Portugal is the first plan officially submitted to the Commission. The plan sets out the reforms and public investment projects that Portugal plans to implement with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The RRF is the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU, the EU's plan for emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission continues to engage intensively with the remaining member states to help them deliver high quality plans.

A full press release and a Q&A are available online.

EU

Civil protection: Council adopts new rules to strengthen disaster response

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The Council today (11 May) adopted a regulation to strengthen the EU civil protection mechanism. The new rules will allow the EU and the member states to better prepare for natural and man made disasters and to respond faster when they strike, including in cases which affect a majority of member states simultaneously, such as a pandemic. The text also sets out the funding of the civil protection mechanism in the context of the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027.

The proposed rules will allow the European Commission to address gaps in the area of transport and logistics, and, in cases of urgency, directly procure certain additional rescEU capacities. These rescEU capacities, as well as those hosted by member states, will be fully financed from the EU budget.

Prevention and preparedness will also be improved under the proposed regulation. The Commission, in co-operation with member states, will define and develop EU disaster resilience goals in the area of civil protection

The text sets out a total of  €1.263 billion in funds for the 2021-2027 period. It also includes an amount of up to €2.56bn to implement the civil protection related measures to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis foreseen in the EU recovery instrument. This is an increase of over three times as compared to the 2014-2020 budget. It reflects the strengthening of the EU's collective response to disasters, including the recent establishment of a reserve of capacities (rescEU), the reinforcement of the European civil protection pool and the improvements in disaster prevention and preparedness.

Background

The EU civil protection mechanism was first established in 2001 and it coordinates the response to natural and man-made disasters at the EU level. Its objective is to foster cooperation among national civil protection authorities, increase public awareness and preparedness for disasters and enable quick, effective, coordinated assistance to affected populations.

The EU civil protection mechanism includes a European civil protection pool. This is a voluntary pool of capacities pre-committed by member states for immediate deployment inside or outside the EU. The civil protection mechanism was last amended in 2019, when an additional reserve of resources, called rescEU, was created to provide assistance in situations where overall existing capacities are insufficient.

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Africa

Vice President Schinas and Commissioner Johansson participate in ministerial conference on migration management with African partners

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Today (11 May), Promoting our European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, will take part virtually in a ministerial conference on migration management gathering Interior ministries from EU Member States, the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, the Chairs of the Rabat Process and the Khartoum Process and partner countries in Africa. Organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU, the event will focus on two main areas in the EU's migration partnership with African partners: the management of irregular movements, including border management and return; and new opportunities for legal migration. Senior officials from the African Union, the European Commission and the European External Action Service, Justice and Home Affairs Agencies, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will also participate.

Portugal's Home Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita and Commissioner Johansson will hold a press conference after the meeting at +/- 14h30 CET.

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Economy

European Year of Rail: Connecting Europe Express will travel across 26 countries in 36 days

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On Europe Day (9 May), the Commission announced the route and timetable of the Connecting Europe Express, as part of the European Year of Rail 2021. Beginning its journey on 2 September in Lisbon and stopping in more than 70 cities in 26 countries, the train will link the Portuguese, Slovenian and French Presidencies of the Council of the EU, arriving in Paris on 7 October. The special train will demonstrate the power of rail to connect people and businesses, and the importance of EU infrastructure policy in making this possible.

Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean said: “Crisscrossing the continent, from Lisbon to Bucharest and from Berlin to Paris, the Connecting Europe Express will follow routes that bind us together – whether countries, businesses or people. While a symbol for connectivity, this train also serves as a reminder that we still have a long way to go and much work to do before rail becomes the transport option of choice for Europeans. Welcome the Connecting Europe Express as it stops at a station near you and join the events taking place around the continent.”

The project is a unique endeavour, involving the European Commission and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), European rail operators, infrastructure managers and numerous other partners at EU and local level. At each of the stops, events and other activities, adapted to local COVID-19 measures, will shine a light on the key role that rail plays for our society, but also on the challenges that rail must still overcome to attract more passengers and freight. You can have a look at the main stops or at the full map of the route here, and watch Commissioner Vălean's video message. Find more details here.

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