Council of Ministers

Government approves emergency measures to alleviate damage caused by storms and other natural disasters

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 20 September 2019

The Council of Ministers agreed to declare the provinces and regions hit by wildfires, flooding, storms and other natural disasters since 1 April as "zones seriously affected by a civil protection emergency".

This declaration will mean that nine ministerial departments will adopt a set of measures, contained in a Royal Decree-Law, to alleviate the personal injury and material damage caused by these disasters. The provisional amount of the aid could rise to 774 million euros.

The Acting Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, announced that the Ministry of Home Affairs will deal with compensation for personal injury and material damage suffered by individuals in their homes and organise basic supplies, as well as reparation to those natural and legal persons that have made personal loans or loaned goods, as well as to industrial, commercial and service companies, including agricultural, fishing and tourism entities.

Luis Planas also indicated that aid and subsidies will be allocated to local authorities in the areas affected for expenses deriving from actions that cannot be delayed but which are not covered by their budget. The Government Delegations and Sub-Delegations will be responsible for applications, which must be submitted within a maximum term of two months.

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoLuis Planas specified that the Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function will authorise the funding to repair damage to municipal infrastructures and to the roads covered by provincial authorities, single province regional authorities and island councils.

The Ministry of the Treasury will specify the exemptions to the quota of Property Tax and reductions in the quota of Economic Activity Tax. The acting minister underlined that compensation for personal injury is exempt from Personal Income Tax.

The Ministry of Work, Migration and Social Security will establish discounts, moratoriums and exemptions of payments to the Social Security system, by business owners, employees and the self-employed.

The Ministry for Ecological Transition will authorise works to restore the land/sea public domain affected and the public water domain. In other words, remarked Luis Planas, all the facilities and infrastructures that affect the hydrographic confederations. Similarly, the Ministry of Public Works will carry out special action and emergency works to repair the damage caused to publicly-owned infrastructures.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food plans to allocate funding to forestry restoration in the zones affected by wildfires.

The acting minister of this department clarified that most of the compensation for damages and losses suffered in agricultural productions and livestock rearing will come from indemnity payments under agricultural insurance, but that funding will be provided to alleviate damages and losses not covered by insurance.

The Ministry of Economy and Business calculates that actions from the Insurance Compensation Consortium may be requested for a more detailed assessment of damage to homes and businesses, provided that this does not affect publicly-owned assets. The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism will activate aid for companies.

Affected zones included under Royal Decree-Law

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe Acting Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, explained that the aid and measures contained in the Royal Decree-Law "are not limited" to the zones affected by the Isolated High Altitude Depression (Spanish acronym: DANA), or "cold drop", last week in Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha, the Region of Madrid, the Region of Valencia and the Region of Murcia, but also to all those zones affected by adverse climate phenomena in recent months.

The Royal Decree-Law expressly covers, as Fernando Grande-Marlaska summarised, the summer's wildfires in Torre de l'Espanyol (Tarragona) and Almorox, Cenicientos and Cadalso (Madrid and Toledo) and Gran Canaria in August, and July's flooding in the Region of Navarre and in Monterrei and Valdeorras (Ourense). It also covers zones affected by another DANA in August in different areas of Andalusia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Catalonia, Castile and Leon, Castile-La Mancha, the Region of Valencia, Extremadura and La Rioja.

Well prepared system to deal with emergencies

The acting minister stated that all these outbreaks, which cause significant damage, seriously affect the safety of people and contribute to the deterioration of the environment, require a "fact and effective" response from the public sector to re-establish normality and recover the well-being of citizens.

In this regard, Fernando Grande-Marlaska highlighted both the coordination between the public authorities and the good functioning of the disaster management services. "Spain has a well prepared system to cater for emergencies".

The acting minister reviewed the different phases of action contained in the National Civil Protection Strategy, approved back in April, to show that both the anticipation and prevention actions - AEMET weather forecasts, early warnings and emergency plans - and the immediate intervention and response plans through the deployment of human and material resources "have worked well".

The Acting Minister for Home Affairs thanked all those members of the State law enforcement agencies, of the Emergency Military Unit (Spanish acronym: UME), of the Armed Forces and of the technical staff of the different ministerial departments involved in crisis management, as well as local police forces, civil protection volunteers, the Red Cross and other organisations for their hard work.

Improvements in the field of disability

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe Council of Ministers approved better regulation of accessibility to public transport for persons with disability.

In this regard, Isabel Celaá announced that access by electric wheel-chairs and scooters will be made available on land and sea transport. Furthermore, people affected by epilepsy and diabetes may be accompanied by a dog. Companies that provide these services must inform passengers of these new rights.

On another note, the government regulated the direct concession of subsidies to Third Sector and Social Action institutions that operate in the field of disabilities.

Subsidies will amount to 5,032,250 euros and will be distributed among 22 national institutions that have historically developed outstanding work in the defence of the basic rights of persons with disabilities and their families.

Report on 2030 Agenda

The Council of Ministers analysed the first report to monitor the "Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda: Towards a Spanish Sustainable Development Strategy", approved in June 2018.

The Acting Government Spokesperson positively rated the relevance of the report to be made aware of "where progress has been made and what needs to be done to make further progress", since "the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide the profile for our project as a nation".

Isabel Celaá announced that the Acting President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, will give a speech on Tuesday, 24 September, in New York City, at the inaugural session of the United Nations General Assembly, where the 2030 Agenda was unanimously adopted by Member States in 2015. The day before, Monday, 23 September, he will also give a speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit.

Current affairs

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoIsabel Celaá explained that on Monday, 23 September, King Felipe VI will dissolve Parliament and call fresh general elections for Sunday, 10 November. The government will continue as a caretaker government, as it has to date, and will "continue to meet and take decisions in accordance with prevailing legislation to attend to citizen needs", claimed the Acting Government Spokesperson.

Isabel Celaá also expressed her condolences and those of the government to the families and friends of the flight instructor and his pupil at the General Air Academy of San Javier (Murcia) who died this week in a plane crash. "All our support goes out to the members of the academy who, for decades now, have devoted their best talents to training future officers in the Spanish Air Force", said the acting minister.

The Acting Government Spokesperson also regretted having to once again mention victims of gender-based violence, this week in Pontevedra and Madrid. "This is a tragedy that we cannot accept", she said, reiterating the government's commitment to women: "we want them free, alive and safe".

Non official translation