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Council of Ministers

Government earmarks 850 million euros to reforming and improving State security infrastructures

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 18 January 2019

​The Council of Ministers approved several plans to reform and improve State security infrastructures, amounting to a total investment of 850 million euros. The measures will affect National Police stations, Guardia Civil barracks, penitentiary centres and Holding Centres for Foreigners (Spanish acronym: CIE).

The Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, explained the approval of the State Security Infrastructure Plan 2019-2025, which provides for an investment of 600 million euros over the next seven years to reform and build National Police stations and Guardia Civil barracks.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska specified that 275 million euros will be allocated to police stations, another 275 million to barracks and an additional 50 million to works on other installations under the umbrella of the State Secretariat for Security.

The minister claimed that one of the priorities of the government's policy is to guarantee security and territorial cohesion in the countryside, an area in which "the Guardia Civil is a fundamental institution". He also pointed out that the plan agreed on Friday makes the working conditions for public servants in his department more dignified and improves the public service offered. "For this government, spending on security also means social spending, since it is only through security that the rights and liberties of individuals can be developed", he stated.

Better penitentiary centres

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe government also approved a revised Plan to Modernise and Build Penitentiary Centres to adapt them to modern-day needs. These measures include a comprehensive overhaul of El Dueso Penitentiary Centre (Cantabria) and the partial refurbishment of another 53 centres.

The Minister for Home Affairs specified that 11 social inclusion centres will be refurbished to comply with the open prison regime, and three new units will be built for prison hospitals in Ourense, Seville and Toledo.
This plan will also give a boost to the construction of the Norte III Penitentiary Centre in San Sebastián, to replace Martutene Prison.
The minister argued that thes
e initiatives will improve the facilities in which prison workers operate, whose work and professionalism he recognised.

Reform of Holding Centres for Foreigners

The Plan to improve facilities at Holding Centres for Foreigners will lead to the comprehensive refurbishment of the eight existing centres and includes the construction of a new centre in Algeciras. The forecast investment amounts to 33,627,379 euros to be executed over the next three years.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska highlighted that this is "an urgent action plan" to bring these centres in line with legal and humanitarian requirements. The government, he added, will develop a new model of centre that contains the proposals made by different organisations and bodies on human rights matter. "Without prejudicing the security measures that these facilities must have in place, the new model will lead to a significant improvement in the quality of life of the people in these centres".

Modernisation of borders of Ceuta and Melilla

The Council of Ministers approved measures to strengthen and modernise the land border protection system in the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, by introducing smart technology features that will not cause bodily harm.

Fernando Grande-Marlaska reiterated that the government's aim is to enhance the prevention of illegal immigration, improve the effectiveness and safety of the members of the State law enforcement agencies, while guaranteeing full respect for the rights of migrants.

In this regard, the minister pointed out that razor wire will be replaced to guarantee border security through less harsh means. The closed-circuit television systems and security infrastructures at the borders of Ceuta and Melilla will also be improved and extended. The border crossings of Beni Enzar, in Melilla, and of El Tarajal, in Ceuta will also be modernised to include facial recognition systems.

Privilege and immunity

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Council of Ministers approved, for submission to Parliament, the Draft reform of Articles 71.3 and 102.1 of the Spanish Constitution, relating to privilege and immunity of Members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and Cabinet members.

The Minister for Education and Vocational Training, and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Celaá, explained that "the aim is to limit immunity to those criminal offences strictly related to the exercise of functions inherent in these positions", and recalled that the draft law has received the approval of the Council of State and the General Council of the Judiciary. "Through this reform, Spain places itself on a similar level to such countries as France, Austria, Denmark and Norway", she claimed.

Tax on digital services and financial transactions

The Draft Laws that provide for the creation of the Tax on Certain Digital Services and the Tax on Financial Transactions will be submitted for their passage through Parliament, as agreed by the government.

"Spain is the first country in the European Union to adapt taxation to the new models of digital services", highlighted Isabel Celaá on the first of these. The aim, she said, is to do away with unfair competition", since these companies do not pay tax in the countries where they have no physical presence, despite generating profits there. Hence, they will pay taxes in the place where they generate value, which will allow Spain to collect up to 1.2 billion euros in additional tax revenue. The tax rate will be 3% and it will apply to platforms with turnover in excess of 750 million euros worldwide and 3 million euros in our country.

As regards the Tax on Financial Transactions, which is indirect, this will be levied at a rate of 0.2% on the acquisition of shares in Spanish companies, regardless of the residency of the agents participating in the transactions, provided that they are listed companies and that the stock market capitalisation value is above 1 billion euros. "Through this new tax, we hope to achieve revenue of some 850 million euros, which will be allocated to pensions and to the social security protection system", explained the minister.

Relations between Spain and United Kingdom in light of Brexit

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoMunicipal elections will be held in May in Spain and in the United Kingdom, to which end the Council of Ministers approved a bilateral agreement with the United Kingdom to guarantee the participation of British citizens resident in our country and Spanish citizens resident in the UK. "This agreement will avoid the right to active and passive suffrage being lost with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 30 March 2019", explained the Government Spokesperson.

As regards how this withdrawal will take effect, after regretting the rejection by the British Parliament of the Brexit Agreement, Isabel Celaá hoped that "the British people and their leaders will find a way to allow us all to satisfactorily bring this complicated process to an end". However, she added, the Government of Spain is ready "for all possible scenarios" through a contingency plan to safeguard all the interests of Spanish citizens and companies in the United Kingdom and vice versa.

The new section entitled "Prepared for Brexit" offers useful and up-to-date information in the regard on the Moncloa web page.

Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030

The Council of Ministers analysed a report with the general guidelines of the Sustainable Tourism Strategy 2030, which is structured around five main strategic pillars: collaborative governance; sustainable growth; competitive transformation and profitability of the system; people, companies and regions; and lastly, tourist products and smart tourism.

The Government Spokesperson claimed that "Spain is a global tourism powerhouse and our goal is for this to continue being the case". The tourism sector contributes 11.7% the national GDP and in 2018 hit an all-time high of 82.6 million inbound tourists with spending of 89.68 billion euros.

Institutional Advertising and Communication Plan 2019

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe government approved the Institutional Advertising and Communication Plan 2019, which provides for an investment of 62.85 million euros. The information on rights and obligations of citizens, and the promotion of healthy and safe habits are the priorities of the campaigns to be developed under the plan.

The document contains detailed information on each one of the 118 institutional campaigns to be developed in 2019 by the ministerial departments, organisations and public enterprises, specifying the aims of each campaign, the foreseeable cost, the budget application, the period of execution, the communication tools to be used, dissemination, the publics to which they are directed, the language, the assessments to be made and foreseeable measures of accessibility.

Weekly assessment

Isabel Celaá reiterated the government's commitment to the European Union project, expressed by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, during the week in his speech to the European Parliament. "Europe is the space for solidarity and union of European citizens", stated the Government Spokesperson, who recalled the proposals made by Pedro Sánchez so that the EU can push through a European Unemployment Insurance scheme, an Army "to create its own capacities in the field of defence", and a binding European Gender Equality Strategy for all Member States.
On this matter, Isabel Celaá regretted the murders of two women in Zaragoza and Madrid on Friday, and declared that the government will not "step back an inch" in the fight to combat gender-based violence. She also conveyed the government's solidarity with the family of the young boy Julen, who they are still trying to rescue from the pit he fell into a few days ago.

Non official translation