"There is a recognition that Portugal has made a very interesting path in this matter and that it is prominently a country that leads in the digital area and other countries should be inspired to replicate Portugal's examples," said André de Aragão Azevedo in statements to the Lusa Agency.

The government official went to Paris at the invitation of his French counterpart, Cédric O, who had recently visited Portugal. André de Aragão Azevedo says that France recognised Portugal's action during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in which digital was a priority area and that both Slovenes, who remain in office, and French, who will be in charge of Europe's destiny in the first half of 2022, intend to continue this work.

"It was clear that Portugal has done a good job in this area and has laid the foundations for a new cycle," he assured.

In addition to having participated in the launch of the Scaleup Europe initiative, which wants to accelerate the development of European startups, André de Aragão Azevedo met with several French companies at the VivaTech technology fair, also trying to attract new investment to Portugal.

"We concluded that in the Portuguese case the digital and entrepreneurship ecosystem worked in an economic counter-cycle. It managed to grow even in a context of economic downturn," he stressed, adding that traditional sectors should not be left aside, but should also incite their transition to digital.

To attract new companies to settle virtually in Portugal, the Government will launch at the next Web Summit the e-residency 2.0 programme, which will allow a company to settle completely in Portugal without having to travel to the country or go to a consulate, doing everything through the internet.

Making his presence felt at VivaTech, France's largest technology fair and one of the first major in-person events in the post-Covid era, André de Aragão Azevedo says he is not an extremist and recognises the importance of human contact.

"I'm not particularly fundamentalist on this issue. All the trends show in terms of digitalisation is that what makes sense, as for example in teleworking, is a hybrid logic taking the best of both worlds. Personal relationships or physical presence in the office cannot be replaced at certain moments in a team context", he acknowledged.

However, the advances of the last year and a half that allow working more comfortably in telework and have made some processes easier and faster should not be lost.

"It was a very big qualitative leap, a gain of about five to 10 years in terms of digitalisation", he concluded.

Portugal is participating for the first time in Vivatech through a set of Portuguese startups that on 18 June will vie for the opportunity to be accompanied by the representation of the Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal (AICEP) in Paris to reach the French market.