Council of Ministers

Government extends calendar for implementing LOMCE

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 9 December 2016

The Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree Law on emergency measures to extend the Constitutional Law to Improve the Quality of Education (Spanish acronym: LOMCE).

The Minister for Education, Culture and Sport and Government Spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, recalled that the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, proposed a National Education Pact in his investiture speech and, "as a sign of his commitment to dialogue", he agreed to suspend the academic effects of the final exams of compulsory secondary education (Spanish acronym: ESO) and advanced compulsory secondary education [Bachillerato]. Furthermore, the minister called the representatives of the regional governments on 28 November to the Sector Education Conference to agree to this new decree law.

Accordingly, while negotiations are carried out to reach a social and political State Education Pact with the political formations and the education community, the results of these final exams will not affect the ESO and Bachillerato qualifications.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo highlighted certain figures on education published recently, such as the "encouraging figures" of the PISA Report or those in relation to the school drop-out rate, which has fallen by seven points on 2011. In his opinion, these will spur us on to continue making progress towards a National Education Pact and we are on the right path to "representing the hopes and aspirations of the education community, strengthening the social dimension of education and committing to the quality of education, equality and inclusion".

The Government Spokesperson framed this search for a consensus on education within the government's intention to participate in dialogue which is particularly necessary following the results of the latest general elections. The agreements the government is reaching, he added, "benefit the country as a whole; the winner being none other than the common good".

Programmes to improve the quality of education

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoAlso on the subject of education, the Council of Ministers allocated 385 million euros to the regional governments to develop measures and programmes to improve the quality of education. In distributing the funds, factors taken into consideration included the number of pupils and education centres, the risk-of-poverty rate and geographic dispersion.

The programmes, specified Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, cover such diverse areas as the implementation of new cycles of Basic Vocational Training and compulsory secondary education plans, the classroom environment, the financing of textbooks and educational materials, educational support for specific needs and school health, among others.

Aid for those affected by flooding

Among the issues tackled by the government were the rainstorms that recently hit areas in the south and the east of the peninsula. The Council of Ministers agreed to declare as areas seriously affected by an emergency requiring civil protection the provinces of Cadiz, Huelva, Malaga, Castellon, Valencia and Alicante, and adopted measures to repair the damage caused. These actions also include several municipalities in Badajoz affected by hailstorms in July.

The Government Spokesperson pointed out that, as well as the deaths of two people, the flooding caused "significant" material damage that is still being evaluated. "The magnitude of the disaster and the need to restore the living conditions of those affected justify the intervention of the Central Government, pursuant to the principles of inter-territorial solidarity and to complement the actions legally incumbent upon regional authorities", he stated. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo praised the climate of institutional collaboration, as well as the support shown by citizens.

The measures adopted include aid for personal injury, damage to primary residences and commercial premises, compensation for local authorities for actions that could not be delayed, subsidies for damage to infrastructures, tax breaks and labour and social security measures. The minister remarked that the Law on the National Civil Protection System, approved in 2015, allows formalities to be speeded up and offers greater effectiveness and speed in the arrival of aid.

Fight against DAESH

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoThe Council of Ministers requested the authorisation of the Lower House of Parliament to deploy personnel from the Guardia Civil and increase the number of members of the Spanish Armed Forces on the mission "Support in Iraq", within the framework of the Global Coalition against DAESH. The President of the Government had already announced this decision on 28 November.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo explained that Spain will increase its participation by 25 Guardia Civil officers - engaged in the training of the Iraqi Police Force - and 125 servicemen to provide security, protection, logistical and healthcare support and the training of Iraqi personnel. These reinforcements, he stressed, "will help maintain the nature of the mission, which is primarily a contribution to the training of the Iraqi State law enforcement agencies".

State Housing Plan

The government extended the 2013-2016 State Plan to foster property rentals, the refurbishment of buildings and urban regeneration and renewal. The term of this four-year plan ends on 31 December, but since Spain was operating under a caretaker government it was unable to approve the next plan for the period 2017-2020. The Ministry of Public Works has called a Housing Sector Conference for 15 December, "with the aim of agreeing on proposals to draw up a consensual new plan", pointed out the Government Spokesperson.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo underlined that since 1 January 2013, the Ministry of Public Works has invested 2.43 billion euros in State funding for housing in its different forms: rent subsidies, the refurbishment of homes, subsidised loans for the purchase of property, etc. In total, more than 570,000 people have benefitted from this plan.

Support for the peace process in Colombia

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoThe Council of Ministers approved Spain's financial contribution to the European Union Trust Fund to support the application of the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC.

The fund has an allocation of more than 90 million euros of which Spain will contribute 3 million. The signing of this will take place in Brussels on 12 December, in the presence of the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who following this event is due to visit Spain, pointed out the Minister for Education.

"Spain has always supported the governments of Colombia in all their peace processes", stressed Íñigo Méndez de Vigo. Since 2006, through Spanish Cooperation, a total of 80 million euros have been allocated to peacebuilding in this country and it will continue to do so in the future, he stressed.

Other agreements

  • Approval of the new Statute of the National Library of Spain.
  • Draft Law on explosive precursors sent for passage through Parliament.
  • Grand Cross of Alfonso X the Wise awarded to Francisco Luzón and Joaquim Molins i Amat.

Current affairs

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoAsked about the cases of alleged fraud in the world of football and the possible initiatives to be taken by the Spanish public authorities on this matter, the Minister for Education, Culture and Sport pointed out that the Tax Agency has spent many years performing effective work under the premise that we are all equal under the law. In its investigations, he added, "the only distinction is between those who follow the law and those who do not".

As regards possible meetings between the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, and the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and the meetings between the different political leaders of Catalonia in recent days with the Vice-President of the Government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the Government Spokesperson reiterated the government's interest in continuing to pursue its policy of dialogue - to which end there is a "broad margin" - and of "its outstretched hand" to "see how to resolve people's problems", which "is what is really important".

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo expressed the government's interest in all the regional presidents and, as one of them, the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia will attend the Conference of Regional Presidents that has been announced. It would "seem strange to the government for a regional president, whoever it may be, to not attend the event", he said.

The Government Spokesperson said he was "very disappointed" with what happened in the case of Nadia, the young girl affected by a strange disease whose parents may have received donations fraudulently for treatment for their daughter. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo advocated "maintaining one's trust in people and their generosity" and "not allowing [this case] to taint other gestures of solidarity".

The minister and Government Spokesperson ended his speech by recalling that around this date in 1759, King Carlos III arrived in Spain, an anniversary he referred to when recommending two exhibitions that can be visited in Madrid.