Council of Ministers

Government approves first 581 million euros of Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Tuesday 23 March 2021

The Council of Ministers authorised the proposed territorial distribution of 581.12 million euros to environmental investment projects, which will now be submitted to the Sector Conference with the participation of the regional governments.

The Fourth Vice-President of the Government and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, highlighted that this is the first item approved by the government in application of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan and that its management will primarily fall to the regional governments. "They will need to activate the selection, rounds of proposals, implementation of investment projects and distribute resources".

Three lines of investment

The projects to opt for this financing will be allocated to water sanitation and treatment, to the application of the new regulation on waste and to establishing corrective measures to power lines to avoid harming birdlife.

The 100 million euros for water sanitation and treatment will be allocated to urban areas of less than 5,000 inhabitants that have lagged behind in compliance with their obligations in this regard, and which have difficulties defraying these investments through municipal taxes.

A second package of 420 million euros will allow waste management to be improved prior to the imminent legal reform proposed to comply with the targets set by the European Union. The construction of infrastructures designed for separate collection and their treatment will be promoted, particularly of bio-waste, with the ultimate goal of fostering recycling or reuse.

"These are projects that place us on the path to achieving a modern and efficient economy in the use of resources, abandoning the lineal and extractive economy and fostering the circular economy so that resources can be harnessed on successive occasions", stated the minister.

The remaining 60 million euros will enable the activation of a plan to avoid the electrocution of birds on electricity power lines, one of the main problems of the conservation of the biodiversity. More than 39,000 birds die each year for this reason in Spain, said Teresa Ribera, some of which are endangered species and others are particularly symbolic, such as the Iberian imperial eagle and the little bustard.

Successive activation of aid

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo The minister announced that the government will shortly activate, under the same procedure, 2 billion euros associated with electric mobility, charging points, solar roofs and energy rehabilitation in buildings in municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants

Other lines of territorial action will address the bio-economy and forestry policy, national parks and biosphere reserves, and ecological restoration, while the ministerial department will act according to its jurisdiction, as in the case of protecting the coastline.

Teresa Ribera recalled that the National Budget for the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge assigns some 6 billion euros this year to apply the Recovery Plan.

Regulation on Thermal Installations in Buildings

The Council of Ministers updated the Regulation on Thermal Installations in Buildings (Spanish acronym: RITE) in line with the European regulations on energy efficiency.

The new Regulation, stated Teresa Ribera, will encourage energy savings and facilitate compliance with the targets established in the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 (Spanish acronym: PNIEC) to help reduce primary energy consumption by 39.5% by the year 2030.

The minister highlighted some aspects of the Regulation, such as the technical report that all buildings subject to refurbishments must obtain, which must propose alternative high efficiency installations and the replacement of fossil fuel energy consumption equipment with renewable energy equipment. Furthermore, all the technical installations of buildings, when installed, replaced or improved, must assess their energy efficiency. When opting for conventional systems, the reason for ruling out more efficient and sustainable systems must be justified, such as geothermal heat pumps with radiant flooring, hybridisation with thermal solar energy and natural gas boilers. The digitalisation and automation of temperature controls will also be promoted.

Teresa Ribera described this reform of the Regulation as "very important" because it activates a line of work with professional associations, the rehabilitation and construction sector and end consumers that will allow more efficient solutions to be opted for, reductions in energy consumption and greater home comfort.

Statute of the Institute for the Just Transition

The government approved the Statute of the Institute for the Just Transition (Spanish acronym: ITJ) - the independent body of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge which replaced the former Institute for the Re-structuring of Coal and Alternative Development of Mining Districts in 2019.

Teresa Ribera explained that this new Statute enables the Institute, in addition to managing programmes, funds and budgets associated with coal mining, to manage them in relation to the Spanish Just Transition Strategy.

Satellites to study climate change

The minister recalled that Tuesday is World Meteorological Day, given over on this occasion to "The oceans, our weather and our climate", and announced that Spain will take part, with a contribution of close to 370,000 euros, in the EUMETSAT Jason-CS ocean altimetry meteorological satellite programme over the period 2021-2026, as approved by the Council of Ministers.

These satellites, according to Teresa Ribera, "allow the rate of global warming to be evaluated, provide data on the height of waves, wind speed and highly valuable information for marine forecasting and meteorology".

Increase in remuneration of servicemen

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo The Council of Ministers approved a royal decree amending the regulation on the remuneration of members of the armed forces.

The Minister for the Treasury and Government Spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, specified that the specific supplement of the salary of servicemen will be increased retroactively from 1 January 2021.

The remuneration of the members of the armed forces has remained unchanged since 2005, although such laws have been approved as the Army and Navy Act and the Military Career Act, which require higher qualifications and training of servicemen. Hence, argued María Jesús Montero, the government considers that it is "logical and appropriate" to combine the training demands with a progressive wage hike.

Loans on protected housing

The government agreed to revise and modify the interest rates on loans on protected housing, using the indices published by the Bank of Spain as a reference.

The measure affects qualified or arranged loans granted within the framework of the 1997 Programme of the Housing Plan 1996-1999, the Housing Plan 2002-2005 and the Housing Plan 2005-2008.

María Jesús Montero assured that the revision "will be neutral or beneficial for home owners".

Limitations on arrivals in Spain from Brazil and South Africa

The government approved the fourth extension to the agreement of the Council of Ministers of 2 February 2021, limiting flights between the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Republic of South Africa and Spanish airports.

The Government Spokesperson specified that the measure will come into force as from 6 pm on 30 March until midnight on 13 April, and responds to the government decision to prevent the spread and contagion of COVID-19.

Economic and Social Council

The government agreed to notify the Lower House of Parliament of the nomination of Antón Costas as President of the Economic and Social Council.

The Lower House will need to determine his suitability or the existence of a conflict of interests, explained María Jesús Montero, who highlighted that the professional experience and talent of the candidate correspond to the competence of the institution.

Current affairs

5.5 million doses of the Janssen vaccine

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoAt the start of her appearance at the press briefing following the Council of Ministers, the Government Spokesperson highlighted that the figures offered on Monday by the Ministry of Health confirm that the cumulative incidence rate of COVID-19 is rising in some parts of Spain, which is of concern for the government.

María Jesús Montero called for maximum prudence and caution from the public, and that people maintain, over the coming weeks, the intensity of the measures adopted to avoid the spread of the virus until herd immunity is achieved.

The minister confirmed that the vaccination process with doses of AstraZeneca will resume on Wednesday with the aim of recovering the time lost during its temporary suspension so that 70% of the population can be vaccinated over the course of the summer.

María Jesús Montero announced that Spain will receive 5.5 million doses of the Janssen vaccine, the latest to be approved. The government, she added, believes that this vaccine, which is administered in a single dose, will offset the existing supply difficulties of the other brands.

Vaccination certificate

The Government Spokesperson reported that the Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held on Thursday and Friday will address the development of the European vaccination certificate ("passport"), a measure backed by Spain so that travellers can travel safely from one country to another in accordance with criteria agreed by all Member States.

Boost to the automotive and audio-visual sectors

María Jesús Montero mentioned the visit by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to the Renault Group's factory in Palencia. This is "one more example of how the government is supporting the automotive sector as a whole - a sector that generates wealth, creates a large number of jobs and contributes a significant percentage to the Gross Domestic Product", she said.

The minister also remarked that innovation is one of the pillars of the plan to support the audio-visual sector, which has been seriously prejudiced by the economic situation stemming from the pandemic, which Pedro Sánchez will present on Wednesday. "The aim is to convert Spain into a powerful audio-visual hub in Europe capable of attracting investments and generating economic activity".

Non official translation