Portugal has become the first European Union country to submit its pandemic recovery plan to the European Commission.
Last year, the 27 member states agreed to a €750bn package to help repair the economic and social damage caused by COVID-19.
To receive funds, each country has to specify how it will spend the money from the so-called Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).
"I welcome Portugal‘s recovery and resilience plan as the first one officially submitted to the Commission," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen following receipt of the proposal.
"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."
The plan, which totals €13.9bn of grants and €2.7bn of loans, must include at least 37 per cent of expenditure in investments and reforms that support climate objectives, and 20 per cent towards the digital transition.
But Professor Ricardo Mamede from ISCTE (Lisbon University Institute) said there is already a strong emphasis on these two necessary areas.
"In fact, we cannot identify any other areas that are particularly relevant because this plan will serve to cover investment needs in many areas, but we can say, in any case, that there is an effort here to contribute to a low carbon transition, to a digital transition, both in the public and private sectors, and also some relevant effort in infrastructures and a focus on qualification," Mamede told Euronews.
The deadline for member states to submit their plans is supposed to be at the end of the month, but Brussels has shown some flexibility towards this date, with von der Leyen saying on Thursday: "Our goal remains to adopt all plans by the summer."
There is one other important step that must be completed urgently though.
All member states must ratify the so-called Own Resources Decision, which determines how the bloc will raise the €750bn on the capital markets.
If each country fails to approve this, then the whole recovery plan could fall through.
The European Commission will now assess the Portuguese recovery plan.
If it approves it, then the European Council will have four weeks to accept it or not, after which the money can be disbursed.