LISBON Geronimo Allison Vapor Untouchable Jersey , May 22 (Xinhua) -- Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelode Sousa on Monday praised EU's decision to close the country'sexcessive deficit procedure and praised the Portuguese for theirsacrifices in the past years.


""Today is a day to congratulate the Portuguese. This decisionwas only possible due to their sacrifices over many years,"" Rebelode Sousa said.


""Tomorrow is a day for all of us to start working to converttoday's decision into what matters: more confidence, moreinvestment, more growth and more employment,"" he told journalistsfollowing a seminar about euthanasia at the faculty of medicalsciences in Lisbon.


The decision on behalf of the European Commission to recommendthe Economic and Financial Affairs Council to close Portugal'sexcessive deficit procedure was revealed on Monday at thepresentation of the European Spring Semester Package.


The European Commission has pointed out that Portugal managed toreduce its deficit to 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (DGP) in2016, below the 3 percent threshold in the Stability and GrowthPact, and that according to the next economic forecasts the deficitwill be below the 3 percent ceiling in both 2017 and 2018.


Portugal's exiting the excessive deficit procedure will be aturnaround for a country that in 2011 had to sign a 78-billion-eurobailout program with international lenders when it was on the vergeof bankruptcy.


The previous administration led by Pedro Passos Coelhointroduced harsh spending cuts and tax hikes to cut the deficit,but the current Socialist government led by Antonio Costa decidedto reverse austerity and has shocked sceptics by cutting thedeficit to the lowest level in around 40 years.


Portugal's debt remains very high, at over 130 percent of GDP,and only Canadian rating agency DBRS rates the country's debt asinvestment. Enditem

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PRAGUE, June 9 (Xinhua) - At the DESCOP Defence and Security Conference here on Friday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU needs an common security and defence policy, only the soft power is not enough to ensure security in the present world.


Juncker stressed that it is not the question of whether the EU should strengthen its ability to face threats, but how fast it would do it. The key to security on the continent is cooperation with NATO, but European countries should play a stronger role and be able to act independently.


In today's world, a strong NATO, a strong European Union and a strong relationship between the two, are more important than they ever have been before, said Juncker. Current threats - whether war conflicts, cyber attacks, or terrorism - demand that EU member countries convert the idea of defense cooperation into reality.


Juncker said the soft power in itself is not powerful enough in an increasingly militarised world, there is the need of a credible EU defence policy. He said a European Security and Defence Union will help protect the EU, of which three quarters of Europeans are in favour. In the 1950s, attempts to move towards common defence have been part of the European project, said Juncker.


For the defence of EU, Juncker said it is important to make sure that EU spend what is needed on its defence. The EU spends half as much as the United States on the defence but even only achieve 15 percent of their efficiency. That is both inefficient and costly.


Juncker said the EU needs to invest more, and invest in a more efficient way. The European Commission proposed a European Defence Fund for making the European Union the biggest investor in collective defence research and technology in Europe.


At the DESCOP conference, Juncker, EU diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini and NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller agreed that the need for deeper defence cooperation stems from the increasing threat. They said Europe must take care of its own defence more than before and strengthen its own capabilities as it cannot keep relying exclusively on NATO forces.


Juncker arrived in Prague on Thursday to attend the DESCOP conference which was attended by representatives of NATO and the EU.


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The ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) conducted a study for the financial year of 20002001 into government funding in sport and recreation activities. In this study there were various conclusive results that were found.

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