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Council of Ministers

Government includes its reforms for inclusive and sustainable growth in Agenda for Change

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 8 February 2019

​The Council of Ministers presented the report on the Agenda for Change, a document that contains 60 cross-cutting measures and reforms to boost sustainable and inclusive economic growth, a productive system that is respectful of the environment and a more equal society.

The Minister for Economy and Business, Nadia Calviño, pointed out that the goals of the Agenda respond "to a vision of the future over and above daily issues" to create "an exciting project that covers the whole of our society and attains the type of country we want to exist".

The Agenda for Change is structured around six pillars, the first of which focuses on improved training and human capital, early and compulsory education, vocational training and higher education. Nadia Calviño explained that the government aspires that by the year 2025, "90% of young people have at least a secondary education qualification, and that at least 50% of the population between the ages of 0 and 3 attend education centres".

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe second pillar contains measures to boost the ecological transition, such as the National Energy and Climate Plan, aimed "at reducing emissions by one third by the year 2030 and a 70% participation of sources of renewable generation by that date", specified the minister.

Promoting scientific and technological progress is addressed in the third pillar, while the fourth focuses on achieving a "fair and efficient" labour market, without the high current structural level of unemployment "and without the instability that particularly affects women and young people at this time", stated Nadia Calviño. The minister announced that a new Workers' Statute for the 21st Century will be drawn up and the social security system will be reformed.

The fifth pillar contains social measures, among which the minister highlighted "reducing inequality, combating child poverty and social exclusion, closing the gender gap and halting the rural depopulation process in Spain".

The sixth pillar proposes the need to move towards a more transparent and efficient administration that serves the population. In this regard, Nadia Calviño announced that the Independent Fiscal Responsibility Authority will evaluate spending as part of its Action Plan for 2019.

Measures to facilitate research

The Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree-Law on Urgent Measures in the fields of science, technology, innovation and universities with the aim of facilitating the work of researchers.

The Minister for Science, Innovation and Universities, Pedro Duque, highlighted that these initiatives are framed within the government's global transformation project and seek "to remove the barriers that prevent all the existing tools in the science system from being used correctly".

Pedro Duque explained that the measures will help the functioning of research and university centres become more flexible and better. They will also reduce the administrative burdens that make the development of scientific projects more difficult, foster faster and more stable hiring of researchers, and lead to an increase in resources to avoid the current delays in rounds of proposals and improve equal opportunities among researchers.

The minister underlined that administrative processes will become faster while "the control of public funds will remain intact". He also pointed out that in drawing up the law, contributions from senior officials in the world of science, scientists, students and university interns have been taken into account.

Main improvements

Pool Moncloa/J.M. CuadradoPedro Duque highlighted that these centres and universities may hire staff under permanent employment contracts charged to projects with specific financing. Furthermore, the organising the paperwork for hiring staff at research centres will be speeded up. These measures are in addition to the decision by the Council of Ministers on 25 January to offer 1,454 temporary posts at research bodies.

As part of the reduction in the administrative effort, the minister pointed out that prior intervention at public research bodies will be replaced by ongoing financial oversight in order to control public spending "more flexibly".

In order to speed up the procurement of materials and instruments for scientific projects, research centres will be able to enter into small contracts for services and supplies, thus reducing the current limitations on suppliers and contract terms.

The minister also highlighted that the new regulation will allow the State Research Agency to have more external resources to perform project verifications.

In order to foster fairness and equal opportunities, researchers on maternity/paternity leave and those subject to temporary incapacity will not be discriminated against in selection and evaluation processes of their scientific activity.

Pedro Duque also underlined that university benefit loans will have more beneficial conditions for students, since they will only have to repay them when they are in work and receive income in excess of 22,000 euros per annum.

Other agreements

The Council of Ministers agreed to public employment measures to strengthen the services affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit). It also announced part of the Public Employment Offer for 2019.

Out of this public offer of 1,735 positions, 875 correspond to public servants or job positions with Central Government, while the other 860 positions are for services provided by public enterprises, mainly AENA and the State Ports.

On sporting matters, the government has backed the application by the Spanish Royal Football Federation for the city of Seville and the stadium of Sevilla F.C, S.A.D. to host the final of the UEFA Europa League 2021.

It also authorised the Higher Sports Council to put out the call for proposals for funding to Spanish sports federations for a total sum of 50,055,510 euros.

Dialogue with Catalonia within the law

Pool Moncloa/J.M. CuadradoDuring her address at the press briefing following the Council of Ministers, the Vice-President of the Government and Minister for the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Equality, Carmen Calvo, insisted that the government is committed to "peaceful and legal channels of dialogue to resolve the situation of Catalonia by the Spanish State".

The government, added the Vice-President of the Government, has made an offer to channel this dialogue through the institutional structure of the Bilateral Committee between the Regional Government of Catalonia and the Spanish State to provide responses to the problems in this region within the framework of dialogue, the law and the Constitution.

Carmen Calvo also reported that the Govenrment has presented a document that proposes party talks in which the participants set out their resolution proposals and political projects, with absolute freedom, on the future of Catalonia, with the aim of reaching agreement on a political and democratic proposal. The text also proposes to develop the institutional work of the Bilateral Committee between the Regional Government of Catalonia and the Spanish State.

"This government has the decisive vocation to establish all the channels possible under the law to ensure that dialogue takes place, but at this time the plan we have made to ensure that this dialogue is channelled has not been accepted by the pro-independence forces", pointed out the Vice-President of the Government.

The Vice-President of the Government reiterated that the government "will never accept the proposal for a referendum on self-determination". She also insisted that "the political solution to Catalonia must fall within the framework of the rule of law".

Prudent Budget committed to social policies

Carmen Calvo called for the support of the parliamentary groups to approve the General State Budget proposed by the government. "The country needs this Budget, which is feasible, prudent and committed to social policies and equality", and allocates 60% to policies to restore rights and correct imbalances and inequalities.

The Vice-President of the Government argued that this Budget is good for all regions in Spain, including Catalonia.

Non official translation