“I think that Plan is only for mainland Portugal,” Pedro Calado told Lusa, on the sidelines of the plenary session of the Regional Legislative Assembly, which took place in Funchal.

“This is not a strategic plan at the national level. This is a joke and, again, they play with those that are the priorities and the great responsibilities that we have at this time of governance”, he considered.

The vice-president of the Regional Government, of the PSD / CDS-PP coalition, underlines that “presenting, in a pandemic and calamity situation, with the difficulties that the region is experiencing, with the lack of solidarity that exists at the national level towards Madeira, a strategic national development plan forgetting the name of the Autonomous Region of Madeira is, quite simply, playing with the Madeirans and Porto Santos.”

“But this is what the Socialist Government has brought to the region,” he criticised.

The preliminary version of the economic recovery plan prepared by António Costa Silva, a government consultant, estimates that the Portuguese economy may fall 12 percent in 2020 and moves forward with a set of proposals for the various sectors of activity.

In a 120-page document, entitled “Strategic Vision for Portugal 2020-2030 economic and social recovery plan”, António Costa Silva states that: it is not worth having “illusions”, adding that “the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 disease brings with it a deep economic recession that has global characteristics and that will deeply hurt” the economy.

The document proposes the creation of a “great University of the Atlantic” in the Azores, with a pole in Madeira, for the study of the ocean, climate, land and atmosphere, in cooperation with higher education and research centres.

“The country must create a large University of the Atlantic and a climate forecasting centre, attracting international partners to the Azores, which is one of the best places in the world to study the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere, land and air, and this knowledge is valuable because it can prevent and mitigate the occurrence of extreme climatic phenomena, when structural changes to combat climate change and the progress in decarbonising the economy are not yet having an effect”, the document reads.

The University of the Atlantic should promote oceanographic and climatological research, “vital information for mapping ecosystems and developing a consistent strategy for their protection”.

The idea is to transform the Azores into a technological platform, also creating a hub linked to ‘Atlantic International Research’, based on a network of national and international institutions, which can attract “multiple financing”.

“The Azores are one of the best locations in the world for this type of studies and it is essential to have an integrated model that includes all aspects: the ocean, the climate, the atmosphere, the meteorological forecast, the mapping of national resources, the creation of ‘clusters’ for the use and sustainable development of these resources”, reads the document, which suggests the conversion of the Base of Lajes, in Terceira island,” into an advanced technological centre”.

The University of the Atlantic would also have missions to launch projects for the monitoring of marine ecosystems and help in the definition and protection of the most critical areas, taking into account “the key importance” of anticipating climate change and improving weather forecasts.