Vice President Nadia Calviño, with the Commission's chief financial officer, Valdis Dombrovskis OLIVIER HOSLET
The 70,000 million in direct aid from Europe does not come for free. There will be a semiannual review of the reforms and investments, as this newspaper announced. The Commission will review that pre-established milestones are met. And the Government has already completed the first hundred of them, enough to ensure the first disbursement subject to examination, says the Executive in the documentation that it will send to Brussels. Thus, this year the pre-financing of 9,000 million could be received - which will be granted when the Commission approves the Spanish plan - and 16,000 million for the first tranche that in principle would be released in December. In addition, there would be 2 billion from the React EU fund for healthcare spending. In total, Spain would have guaranteed 27,000 million.
It is precisely that figure that was included in the 2021 Budgets despite the fact that at that time it was not known for sure if these funds would arrive on time. And all this provided that the countries soon ratify the program so that the Commission can borrow and distribute the money.
The non-reimbursable grants to be delivered by the EU will be disbursed in seven installments. One will be pre-financing, which will be provided as soon as Brussels approves the reform and investment plan that the Government will send in the coming days, the so-called Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. This payment could be given for the summer and would reach 9,000 million euros, according to calculations by the Executive. And then there would be another six disbursements at the rate of one each semester. These would be conditioned to the fulfillment of milestones agreed with the Commission and that would guarantee that progress is being made in reforms and investments. As the Spanish Executive explains in the annexes of the Recovery Plan, in the case of reforms a milestone would correspond to the three main phases of legislative reforms: one,program documents or plans; two, the regulatory project, and three, the end of the legislative process for publication in the BOE and entry into force.
The Ministry of Economy initially sent the Commission more than 1,000 milestones.
But the community executive asked that the number be reduced.
The figure was lowered to about 600, but Brussels has called for it to be lowered even further.
If the milestones or the execution of the investments are not met, the Commission could block the semi-annual payment or withhold a part of the funds.
The papers that the Executive will send to Brussels assure: "Spain has already addressed since February 2020 reforms corresponding to a first tranche of transfers of the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism that will allow mobilizing the corresponding resources as soon as the procedures for the start-up are completed. of the new financing instruments, beyond the anticipated pre-financing ”.
In other words, the Government does not foresee problems in obtaining the first disbursement subject to meeting milestones. And this happens because the European Commission allows reforms and investments that were made during the pandemic to be included in the recovery plan. So the Executive has put into the plan a good number of measures already adopted in 2020 and 2021 that respond to European recommendations on what needs to be improved in Spain.
The Government includes, for example, the Climate Change Law, the circular economy strategy, the Moves 3 plan subsidies for the purchase of electric cars, the hydrogen and 5G roadmap, the Education Law, the strategic plan for Promotion of Professional Training, the minimum vital income, the taxes already approved on financial transactions and the Google Tax, the plans already published for the digitization of SMEs, the Administration and digital skills, the
and the reform of the
As a whole, the Government figures about 100 milestones achieved since February 2020.
Delay of collective bargaining reform
However, it seems that the most controversial milestones are instead being postponed. The Minister of Social Security, José Luis Escrivá, had already left for the second half of the year the negotiation with the social agents of the most controversial parts of his pension reform: the increase in the calculation period to calculate the pension up to 35 years and the top of the quotes. And the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño, has been very clear about the need to prioritize other reforms rather than the disputed modernization of collective bargaining.
Speaking to EL PAÍS, Vice President Calviño pointed out that the priority is a shock plan for youth employment, improving the training policies for the unemployed or the new transition ERTEs that will be used this year. “There are some issues that are urgent right now and others that we will have to negotiate throughout the year because they are more complex. But our objective has to be to reach an agreement with the social agents at the end of the year ”, he stressed. And this is reflected in the documentation that the Government will send to Brussels.
Or, what is the same, the most complicated part of collective bargaining is left for later, despite the fact that the Ministry of Labor had been pressing to have it as soon as possible. In fact, Trabajo has delivered to the social agents a new wording, to which EL PAÍS has had access, of articles 84, 85 and 86 of the Workers' Statute. In this draft, it is only allowed to raise the salary in company agreements, regional agreements are reinforced —something that goes against market unity—, and the ultra-activity of agreements is resumed. All of them are matters that provoke rejection in the bosses and that had never had the support of the European Commission.
Regarding the tax reform, Vice President Calviño has already declared that with the pandemic it is not the time to raise taxes.
So the committee of experts has been given until February 2022 to present its conclusions.
That does not mean that specific adjustments can be made in some tax figures, recall government sources.
Criticisms of the Government's recovery plan
The recovery plan presented by the government has already received some criticism. The
Fedea explains that the recovery plan lays out the reforms without too much precision. And although it applauds initiatives such as tolls or bankruptcy reform, it warns of the risk of setback in labor matters, of an “indiscriminate and ill-considered rise in the tax burden” and of pension proposals that do not represent an advance in the sustainability of the system .
Citizens MEP Luis Garicano has pointed out that the plan should focus more on training people than on investing in things, such as renovating buildings, which can provide energy savings but do not improve the capacities of the economy. And he asked that these resources be used to reform the university and turn it into a pole of innovation as happens in other countries.