Council of Ministers

Government authorises round of proposals for subsidies for R&D+i projects by State Research Agency

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 30 August 2019

The Council of Ministers authorised the State Research Agency to put out a call for proposals for subsidies for R&D+i projects in the fields of 'Knowledge Generation' and 'Research Challenges', for a sum of 362 million euros.

The first is geared towards research projects without previously defined subject matter that seek to develop knowledge regardless of the time frame and scope of its application. The second is geared towards the resolution of problems tied into eight major challenges facing society and included in the State Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan 2017-2020.

The government has also authorised the call for proposals for subsidies for 'R&D+i Collaboration Challenges' projects, with an allocation of 260 million euros. These projects will mobilise private funding, create jobs and contribute to economic growth.

The aim of this measure is to facilitate, through public-private consortiums, the incorporation of knowledge, new technologies, products and services to boost technological development and innovation in Spain.

The Acting Minister for Science, Innovation and Universities, Pedro Duque, highlighted that both rounds of proposals are very important for the scientific community and foster the transfer of technology to the productive fabric. In total, he remarked, 432 million euros will be allocated to investments in subsidies and 190 million in loans to consortium companies.

Pedro Duque underlined the government's commitment to the deadlines set out in the schedule that the State Research Agency recently made available to the Spanish scientific community. The goal, he added, is for researchers to adapt to the schedule gradually and choose the time in which they begin their projects and not have periods when they are not funded.

Strengthen leadership of RAE

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe government regulated the granting of more than 15 million euros, over three years, to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) to guarantee its functioning and foster research into the Spanish language.

Pedro Duque explained that the funding will be allocated to increase innovative activities into the Spanish language and the leadership of Spanish among the languages that are used in information technology. We want the RAE to head up the transformation and strengthening of Spanish, which has 570 million speakers, as a language of science and technology and for us to head up communication in the new digital era", he said.

The acting minister specified that research will be conducted in the field of the processing of natural language and the effects will be analysed of the use of smart systems that process language, detecting the mistakes made by machines through their use of Spanish. "We must endeavour to ensure that the development of Spanish in machines does not have a harmful effect and that progress is made on the unification and regulation of rules in the field of artificial intelligence", he argued.

Defence system against illegal drones in Madrid

The Council of Ministers approved the contracting, for the sum of 290,000 euros, a system for the remote detection, identification, monitoring, motorisation and, as the case may be, neutralisation of unmanned aircraft and drones when these pose a threat to the headquarters of the highest State institutions located in Madrid.

The Acting Minister for Education and Vocational Training, and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Celaá, explained that their ease of purchase has meant their proliferation in urban Madrid - between just 7 and 16 June, 117 illegal flights were detected - and that any badly intentioned use "may have dangerous consequences" for air navigation and citizen security.

220 million euros for fruit and vegetable producers

The government amended the regulation of operating funds and programmes of organisations of producers in the fruit and vegetable sector.

Isabel Celaá pointed out that the aim of this reform is to make the use of European Union funding more effective and to speed up the receipt of subsidies, which amount to 220 million euros per annum.

Restoration of areas affected by fire

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe Council of Ministers ratified the urgent nature of the hydrological-forestry restoration works following the wildfires this summer in the municipalities of Beneixama (Alicante), Real Sitio de San Ildefonso and Palazuelos, in Eresma (Segovia) and Almorox (Toledo), with funding of close to 700,000 euros.

The Acting Government Spokesperson recalled that the fires affected 200,000 hectares of land with a very high ecological value and protected natural spaces. The actions scheduled will contribute towards avoiding erosion and re-establishing vegetation.

New national referral centres for vocational training

By approving two royal decrees, eight vocational training schools and centres in Andalusia, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Catalonia have been classified by the Council of Ministers as National Referral Centres.

Isabel Celaá praised the progress of these centres, which are "innovators" in each one of their sectors: crafts, natural stone, jewellery, carpentry, gardening, mechanics, graphic arts and social care.

The National Referral Centres Network is framed within the strategic plan to boost new, more modern and competitive vocational training which, under the coordination of the State Administration, includes the collaboration of the regional governments, business organisations and trade unions.

Current affairs

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe Acting Government Spokesperson argued that the Ministry of the Treasury is searching for "formulas within the law" that will allow advance payments to be made to regional governments.

Isabel Celaá pointed out that these payments have not been made to date because a caretaker government does not have the powers to do so, according to the State legal service, and furthermore, "we are without a national budget". The acting minister regretted that the government's draft budget was rejected back in January which "structured mechanisms that favoured the system of regional financing".

On another note, Isabel Celaá admitted that the Government of Spain and the EU authorities are concerned by a hard Brexit "which all the signs indicate is what will happen".

However, she pointed out that Spain is ready for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without a deal, thanks to the approval in March of Royal Decree-Law 5/2019, on the adoption of contingency measures. She also remarked that the forecasts contained in this law will allow "solutions to be tailored" to such questions as social security, residency and the recognition of studies and professional qualifications, both for British citizens residing in Spain and for Spanish citizens residing in the United Kingdom.

In relation to the reception of the 15 migrants rescued at sea by the vessel 'Open Arms', the Acting Government Spokesperson declared that the government has "handled the situation in line with its migratory policy". The 12 men and three women arrived on Friday at the port of San Roque, in Cadiz.

Non official translation