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Portuguese report
by Euro Reporter
2014-11-05 09:33:53
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Domestic tourism in double digit surge

Tourism involving Portuguese residents was up by 11.5% in the second quarter of this year in annualised terms with the National Institute of Statistics attributing this fluctuation primarily to Easter falling in this period.

The Monday released report read: "the most frequently stated motive for travelling by residents was visits to families or friends accounting for 46.5% of total tourism trips” with “leisure, recreation or holidays taking greater significance in June and corresponding to 44.3% of total trips.” Residents in Portugal made a total of 4.4 million tourism trips in the three months to June with the 11.5% increase following two quarters of falls in tourism trips.

"To this variation, the month of April made a particular contribution registering significant growth of 30.2%, due to the movements associated with the Easter period” said the report that also identified a 12.6% rise in tourism in May against a 4.6% decline in June. The National Institute of Statistics report furthermore highlighted a 4.2% growth in domestic tourism travel over the first six months of this year.


Portugal says it will meet 2015 deficit target

Portugal will cut its budget deficit to below the EU’s 3 percent of GDP threshold next year, its finance minister said on Tuesday, dismissing a higher forecast by the European Commission. In its autumn estimates for European Union countries, the EU executive forecast Portugal’s deficit at 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product in 2015, with the higher figure “mainly due to more cautious assumptions about revenue collection next year”.

But finance minister Maria Luis Albuquerque told reporters the government’s revenue assessment was “absolutely realistic” and that economic growth meant income could even exceed projections. That will ensure the 2.7 per cent deficit targeted in next year’s draft budget will be maintained, she said. “Portugal will leave the excessive deficits behind in 2015,” Ms Albuquerque added. Any deficit above 3 per cent of GDP is considered excessive by the EU, with countries breaking the rule subject to additional financial scrutiny by Brussels.

The commission has until the end of this month to evaluate the draft budget presented by Portugal, which aims to cut the deficit from this year’s projected 4.8 per cent but also ease austerity imposed under its now-completed bailout programme. Ms Albuquerque said the commission’s estimates did not take into account the impact of moves to curb tax evasion, which have allowed the government to project a lower deficit next year. “Our confidence in the efficiency of measures against tax evasion are supported by what we’ve actually achieved in 2013 and 2014,” she added. In a speech on Monday night, hours before the commission published its projections, prime minister Pedro Passos Coelho said Portugal’s removal from the list of European countries with excessive deficits next year was a “matter of honour”.

“Despite all the prophecies and predictions that may appear and throw doubt upon this matter, I guarantee that the government will not fail in adopting a strategy that will allow Portugal to leave excessive deficits behind in 2015,” he said. Portugal and its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors are due to conclude on Tuesday their first round of consultations since the country exited its three-year, €78 billion bailout programme in May. Ms Albuquerque said the sides had discussed concerns about the deficit projections. On Tuesday, the commission also said it saw Portugal’s economy growing 1.3 per cent next year, slightly less than the government’s 1.5 per cent forecast, after returning to growth in 2014 following a three-year-long recession.


Portugal could block EU climate deal over connection target

Portugal warned on Wednesday it could block an EU plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions if other states at a summit this week reject a binding target for building cross-border power cables and pipelines. "We will not support a deal that does not include a binding target because we need to create a stable, predictable regulatory framework in order to attract private investment," Bruno Macaes, Portugal's secretary of state for Europe, said. Portugal and neighbouring Spain have large surpluses of renewable energy, produced by the likes of Acciona and Iberdrola, and spare natural gas imported from a range of suppliers, including North Africa, which could help to reduce the European Union's dependence on Russian energy. But a lack of connections over the Pyrenees into France means the spare Iberian energy is stranded.

An existing, non-binding target for "inter-connectivity" in the EU energy market has had little effect. EU leaders are meant to decide on a set of climate and energy policy goals for 2030, which are expected to include a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990. They are also likely to set goals to increase the share of renewables - solar and wind power and the like - in the energy mix to 27 percent and to improve energy savings, by insulation and recycling, by 30 percent compared with business as usual. Talks on Thursday and Friday could prove difficult as some business leaders and nations such as Britain favour just one binding 40 percent goal, while others press for tougher targets and coal-dependent Poland argues it needs financial help if it is to agree to anything at all. Early versions of documents prepared ahead of this week's summit included the 15 percent goal on interconnection that Spain and Portugal have sought, but the latest draft seen by Reuters does not. The European Commission, the EU executive, is keen to complete a single European energy market and has cited conflict between Ukraine and main EU energy supplier Russia as reason to invest in infrastructure that can maximise alternative supplies.

But the 28 member states have clung to the right to make national decisions about which form of energy they use. Britain, Ireland and Italy, as well as Spain and Portugal, are virtual energy islands with connection capacities of just 3 to 5 percent, according to European Commission figures. The EU executive says a decade-old, non-binding target of having cross-border connections capable of carrying 10 percent of the bloc's energy has not been met and has had little effect on encouraging the building of new lines. Lisbon believes setting a higher, binding target would help draw investment into the sector. There was no immediate comment from Spain, though EU officials have said Madrid is also pressing for a deal that improves connectivity.


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