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Council of Ministers

Government completes distribution of funds to regional governments for active employment policies

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Monday 5 August 2019

The Council of Ministers approved the distribution of more than 297 million euros to regional governments for active employment policies, which was agreed to be distributed at the Employment and Labour Affairs Sector Conference on 18 July.

The Acting Minister for Education and Vocational Training, and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Celaá, recalled that this amount is in addition to the almost 2.02 billion euros approved back on 8 March.

Accordingly, a total of 2.32 billion euros will be allocated, 9% more than the funds distributed in 2018.

Isabel Celaá recalled that the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla have no jurisdiction over employment affairs, and hence the government has authorised the State Public Employment Service (Spanish acronym: SEPE) to call for public subsidies for the amount of 23 million euros to finance the comprehensive employment plans in these cities.

These programmes are geared towards improving employability and the labour insertion of the unemployed and provide for the hiring of 2,170 unemployed persons to carry out general interest and social works and services during 2019.

Fight against drug addiction

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe government agreed to the distribution of funds scheduled for National Drugs Plan programmes to be developed by regional governments for the sum of 9.5 million euros.

These funds will be allocated to covering the costs derived from the development of the National Drugs Strategy through regional plans (direct aid for drug addicts, care for their families, labour reinsertion), as well as to the implementation of prevention, information and rehabilitation programmes for drug addicts with legal-criminal issues.

Regional governments have jurisdiction for implementation on matters of drug addiction, while the State allocates funding each year under the National Budget for subsidies to boost certain programmes. The National Drugs Plan Sector Conference unanimously approved the distribution criteria applicable to each region on 12 June.

Isabel Celaá highlighted the good results harvested in the fight against drug trafficking in the Strait of Gibraltar, thanks to operations coordinated by the Ministries of Home Affairs and of Justice.

State highway maintenance and operation

The government authorised the public tender of a services contract, for an estimated value of 24.79 million euros, for the maintenance and operation of a section of the AP-4 in Seville.

It also authorised the formalisation of four services contracts for a total sum of 129.17 million euros, on four sections of the AP-7 in Tarragona, Castellon, Valencia and Alicante.

The Government Spokesperson remarked that these decisions take a "decisive step forward towards removing tolls", since the stretch of the AP-4 toll motorway between Seville and Cadiz, and the stretch of the AP-7 toll motorway between Tarragona and Alicante will be managed by the State as from 1 January 2020.

Isabel Celaá stressed that in both cases, the personnel that perform maintenance work will be subrogated.

Economic balance

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Acting Minister for Economy and Business, Nadia Calviño, reported to the Council of Ministers on the current economic situation following publication of the latest figures from the Social Security system, the Labour Force Survey, national accounting and the growth forecasts made by national and international bodies.

Nadia Calviño explained that the Spanish economy has put together 22 back-to-back quarters of year-on-year growth, 19 of them above 2%, and hence maintains "robust" growth at a rate that is "practically double that of the Eurozone". While the rate of growth in the second quarter of 2019 in the Eurozone was 0.2% and the year-on-year rate was 1.1%, Spain posted 0.5% and 2.3% respectively.

This buoyant performance by the Spanish economy in the first few months of the year has led national and international bodies to upwardly revise their growth forecasts for 2019,

hich now stand at between 2.3% and 2.4%. This has translated into a dynamic job market, which recorded 19.5 million National Insurance contributors in July, leading Nadia Calviño to describe it as "a record figure".

Fall in unemployment

The acting minister highlighted that unemployment is on a "downward spiral", although a spike in the active population should be taken into account, with more people who want to work and are active job seekers. Specifically, unemployment has fallen by 123,588 people over the last year. According to the Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate stood at 14% after the second quarter, the lowest rate in a decade.

Furthermore, the rate of job creation stands above the GDP growth forecast, between 2.4% and 2.6%, according to Labour Force Survey figures, national accounting and the Social Security system. "The jobs shed during the crisis have been recovered, the figure for women in work stands at above 9 million, primarily permanent and full-time employment contracts are being recorded and a reduction in temporary employment and part-time jobs has been observed", specified Nadia Calviño.

Reforms to prolong growth

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaDespite this positive development, the acting minister warned of the need to undertake reforms while the economy is enjoying a buoyant period in order to prolong growth and make it increasingly more sustainable and fair. "Education and innovation measures and ecological transition processes of the economy, together with industrial digitalisation are all essential", she claimed.

The acting minister also stated that when assessing the economic situation, the rise in protectionist, trade and exchange rate tensions on the international stage should be taken into account, together with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Brexit), scheduled for October.

Withdrawal of Spanish candidature to IMF

Nadia Calviño confirmed that her name will not appear in the next round of voting to choose the European Union candidate to head up the International Monetary Fund (IMF). "The aim is for there to be a single European Union candidate and for this to be the best possible figure, and Spain's position has been to contribute to reaching a consensus".

Nadia Calviño expressed her "satisfaction" at having had the "great honour" of appearing on the initial list of potential candidates. She also remarked that her participation in the process has met the government's goal of "Spain having a voice in Europe and being counted on in the global economy and by international institutions".

Current affairs

Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaAt the start of the press briefing, the Government Spokesperson condemned the latest cases of gender-based violence, which has now seen 37 victims in 2019, and more than 1,000 since records began.

As regards the formation of a government, Isabel Celaá declared that the Acting President of the Government "will continue working tirelessly" to reach an agreement to avoid repeat elections. The Government Spokesperson called for all political forces to break the existing stalemate so that Spain can have a government as soon as possible.

For her part, Nadia Calviño regretted the "cost" of having a caretaker government, since the country is not fully operational to address structural economic reforms, or to update the macro-economic chart, send the proposed fiscal path to Parliament or even draft the Budget for next year.

Non official translation