By financing more asphalt, Portugal is taking a wrong turn on sustainable mobility

UPDATE: We are informed that the new version of the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan does not include this project as of 19 April 2021. Therefore, this nomination is withdrawn from the campaign.

Portugal will use Recovery money to expand road infrastructure, while neglecting greener transport modes such as railways.

In a nutshell:

  • Recovery money going to unsustainable road transport
  • Much-needed railways not present in the Recovery plan


According to the latest available draft, the Portuguese government will allocate €663 million from the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) to expand road infrastructure.

However, betting on road infrastructure expansions does not deliver on the decarbonisation of the transport sector. Moreover, in most cases, environmental impact assessments are missing.

Instead, Recovery money should be used to promote more sustainable transport modes, such as soft mobility or railways, which seems to be completely forgotten in the Recovery plan. In Portugal, railroads have consistently been neglected over the years and urgently need substantial investments to become a competitive alternative to other, more polluting modes of transport.

Railways were considered as an essential measure in the Strategic Vision that preceded the publication of the Recovery plan, but then were not included in later drafts (though they will likely be reallocated into other plans). This raises concerns that Portugal is missing the unprecedented financing opportunity of the RRF to improve its railway infrastructure, which is essential for territorial cohesion as well as reducing air and individual road transport.

Instead of choosing to stay on the safe tracks, Portugal is taking a winding, asphalted detour for the decarbonisation of the transport sector.


Portuguese Government, Portuguese Recovery and Resilience Plan – version for public consultation (February 2021)

Recovery and Resilience Plan doesn’t meet green transition targets and includes projects that should not be financed (March 2021)

Brussels wants dams, roads and bridges out of the RRP (March 2021)