Council of Ministers

Government allocates 52 million euros to centres of research excellence

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 25 October 2019

The Council of Ministers authorised the State Research Agency to announce the 2019 round of proposals for public accreditations and subsidies for "Severo Ochoa" centres of excellence and for "María de Maeztu" units of excellence.

The Acting Minister for Education and Vocational Training, and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Celaá, explained that, by recognising these centres and units at which their researchers have a great impact and international importance, quality is thus promoted in scientific research.

The amount of this round of proposals totals 52 million euros to be distributed over four years.

Subsidies for the electrical energy-intensive sector

Isabel Celaá reported that the government has raised the budget for subsidies to offset the costs of indirect greenhouse gas emissions to 172.23 million euros. This agreement raises the amount of 91 million euros approved in March and will cater for the 192 applications received.

By taking this measure, the government thus continues to support the industrial sector and strengthens the competitiveness of electrical energy-intensive companies, which are those that need to consume more electricity than other industries in their production processes, and hence are more sensitive to electricity costs.

Subsidies for Olympic and Paralympic sport

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe Acting Government Spokesperson announced that the government will allocate 875,000 euros to the Spanish Olympic Committee and 400,000 to the Spanish Paralympic Committee to fund travel expenses for Spanish athletes and coaches to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

These subsidies will also help defray expenses related to the registration and participation of Spanish delegations in sporting events organised by the international Olympic and Paralympic committees over the course of 2019.

Improvements to wine sector

The government has modified the Programme to Support the Wine Sector for the period 2019-2023 with the aim of incorporating improvements in the management and use of EU funding assigned thereto.

The Acting Government Spokesperson recalled that Spain is the country that exports the most wine, and hence any programmes to support the sector are welcome. In this regard, she stated that of the 1.1 billion euros of funding spent over the period 2014-2018, this has benefitted 40,679 farmers and 1,247 wineries. Budget performance in 2019 stands at 94% as at 15 October.

Maintenance of highways and railways

The Council of Ministers authorised works to be put out to tender, through Adif, for rail sections on high-speed lines, with the aim of ensuring their optimum maintenance, for a period of 36 months with an estimated value of 25 million euros.

Isabel Celaá highlighted that the works to modernise security facilities on the Silla-Cullera-Gandía stretch on line C-1 of the suburban system of Valencia have also been put out to tender for a sum of 24.7 million euros.

Restoration of a coal mine in Leon

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe government authorised the processing of a collaboration agreement between the Institute for the Re-structuring of Coal Mines and the Alternative Development of Mining Districts (Spanish acronym: IRMC) and the Department of Economy and the Treasury of the Regional Government of Castile and Leon for the environmental rehabilitation of the "Nueva Julia" open cast coal exploitation located in the municipalities of Cabrillanes and Villablino, which are both located in Leon.

Isabel Celaá specified that the project provides for actions to refit shafts and landfills, the restoration of vegetation and drainage networks, the demolition of auxiliary facilities and waste management, as well as environmental oversight and control.

The budget to undertake this restoration amounts to 24.3 million euros, of which the IRMC will contribute 75% of the total cost of the project and the Regional Department of Economy and the Treasury of the Regional Government of Castile and Leon the remaining 25%.

Elections on 10 November

The government authorised the election expenses related to the postal votes necessary for the general elections to be held on 10 November.

Isabel Celaá specified that 48,806 euros will be allocated to send letters to more than 2.12 million voters registered on the Electoral Register of Absent Residents. In addition, 35 million census cards will be sent to voters that are resident in Spain for a cost of 598,843 euros. Informative sheets will also be sent on postal voting, for the sum of 25,455 euros.

Current affairs

Pool Moncloa/JM CuadradoThe Acting Government Spokesperson explained that, following the exhumation of Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, the site will re-open next week with a new meaning, "Without the dictator, it can be understood as a place of worship to remember and pay tribute to the victims of hatred".

Isabel Celaá pointed out that the transfer of the remains of Franco to a private grave "is a great victory for Spanish democracy" in which the three State powers - legislative, executive and judiciary - have all ruled clearly in the same manner.

The acting minister expressed her confidence in any democratic government continuing to further comply with the Historical Memory Act, "Its goal, whether at the Valley of the Fallen on in unmarked graves, is none other than redress, memory, justice and dignity".

On another note, the Acting Government Spokesperson also referred to the latest Labour Force Survey (Spanish acronym: EPA) which shows that the unemployment rate has fallen below 14% and the increase in the number of people in work by almost 25,000.

However, Isabel Celaá acknowledged the existence of a slowdown in the rate of job creation and expressed her concern over the effects that may derive from the "clear" global economic slowdown.

Isabel Celaá called for the "strength of our country" to act, both in response to these economic challenges and "to combat those who seek to destroy what unites us", in reference to the violent demonstrations and incidents over the past week in Catalonia after the Supreme Court ruling was issued on the pro-independence leaders.

The Acting Government Spokesperson stressed that there is no "place for impunity" and that the material authors of criminal offences are always prosecuted. More than 200 people have been arrested to date.

Isabel Celaá thanked the State law enforcement agencies for their work "for the common good, security and co-existence in Catalonia", and wished those police officers and other citizens injured a speedy recovery.

The acting minister stressed that what Catalonia needs is co-existence, a future, and a return to normality in the streets".

Lastly, Isabel Celaá expressed her regret the loss of human life and the disappearance of several people this week in Catalonia as a result of the 'cold drop', or DANA (Isolated Depression at High Altitude). The Acting Government Spokesperson explained that the government has offered its full support to the Regional Government of Catalonia.

Non official translation