Council of Ministers

Government approves Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan to submit to Brussels this week

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Tuesday 27 April 2021

The Council of Ministers approved the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan for the Spanish Economy which it will submit to Brussels this week for its evaluation after its presentation by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, on 14 April in the Lower House of Parliament.

The Minister for the Treasury and Government Spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, described it as the "most ambitious economic plan in our country in its recent history", which will lay the foundations "so that future generations can enjoy a better, more sustainable, more productive and more social country".

Spain to receive 140 billion euros between 2021 and 2026

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaMaría Jesús Montero recalled that the agreement reached at the European Council on 21 July has led to the implementation of the largest package of support to tackle the economic crisis stemming from COVID-19, thanks to which Spain will receive 140 billion euros between the years 2021 and 2026, 70 billion of which are direct transfers.

The 212 measures that these funds will be allocated to are set out in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which includes 110 investments and 102 reforms, with four cornerstones for transformation: the ecological transition, the digital transformation, social and territorial cohesion and gender equality. Its aims include modernising the productive fabric and the public authorities, highlighted María Jesús Montero, boosting the growth potential of the economy, boosting the creation of quality jobs, developing towards a greener and more sustainable economy, and reducing social inequalities.

The Government Spokesperson stressed that the Plan has already started to be implemented while awaiting approval from the European Commission, which has two months to review it. This can be seen in the fact that more than 2 billion euros have already been distributed to the regional authorities for different projects, in accordance with the agreements reached at the different sector conferences. María Jesús Montero described this distribution as an example of the framework of co-governance and respect for the jurisdiction of each public authority that will implement the Plan.

Plan to modernise the justice system

The minister announced that the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan will also finance the Justice 2030 "Project 0", which provides for an investment of 400 million euros over the next three years to implement homogenous and interoperable digital infrastructures.

The three specific projects are the Modernisation of Infrastructures, Digital Immediacy and Digital Public Faith, and Digital Services for citizens, companies and groups.

The government authorised the distribution on Tuesday of the first 20.6 million euros under "Project 0" among the regional governments with transferred powers on justice matters.

More than 680 million euros for vocational training for employment

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe government approved the proposed distribution of more than 680 million euros to the regional governments for vocational training for creditable employment. The amount is 13.18% higher than in 2020.

548.7 million euros will be allocated to training for unemployed workers, 115 million to training for workers and the remaining 19.5 million to specific programmes implemented by the autonomous regions, both for workers and for the unemployed.

Also in relation to education, the government has approved 14 new professional qualifications in the National List of Professional Qualifications, and updated another 11 qualifications. The National List now has 687 qualifications.

Integrated and single vocational training system

The Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Isabel Celaá, framed these agreements within the decisions that have been adopted since 2018 to consolidate a single integrated vocational training system for the education system and for training for employment. "We must ensure that training becomes a natural part of people's lives, of people's professional lives, guaranteeing lifelong updates, qualifications and the retraining of professional skills".

This integrated system will be consolidated in a new Vocational Training Act, currently being drawn up.

Isabel Celaá claimed that these changes respond to four structural challenges. The first is to accredit the high number of workers in our country who lack formal accreditation of their professional skills - 48% of the active population, or 11 million people. The second is to reduce the number of people that exclusively have one initial qualification so that they can obtain an intermediate qualification, given that by the year 2025, 50% of job positions will require this. "We have a clear task ahead of us on this matter", said Isabel Celaá.

The third and fourth challenges are to increase the number of training hours and the number of places, since the average in Spain is below half the European average in the number of students enrolled.

Foreign Action Strategy 2021-2024

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Council of Ministers approved the Foreign Action Strategy for Spain 2021-2024 - a document that sets out the basic lines of action for all public authorities and enterprises, companies, NGOs, foundations, universities and think tanks.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, explained that the strategy views foreign policy as a State policy, not of any government or party, and is the result of an extensive consultation process with all the public, social and economic sectors with the aim of forging broad national consensuses.

The strategy is based on a diagnosis of the current situation, marked by interdependence, rapid global changes and the crisis stemming from COVID-19, and highlights Spain's strengths, situated among the 15 largest economies in the world.

Arancha González Laya highlighted that the aim of foreign action is for Spain to be a nodal country capable of contributing to forge consensuses and agreements and provide a response to the breakdowns the world is seeing. "Forging consensus based on Spain's interests", as a proponent of the values of democracy, individual liberties and human rights.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs added that the Strategy provides for economic diplomacy, that is, the commitment to accompany the internationalisation of all companies so that they can conquer foreign markets and the aim of leveraging foreign investment in Spain. The document also translates the government's commitment to a feminist policy and to gender equality into foreign action.

Four keys to Spain's international projection

The minister set out the four main cornerstones of Spain's international projection.

The defence of multilateralism and international cooperation over unilateralism and nationalism. At this level, the minister highlighted that Spain has been a proponent of COVAX - the great international response to achieve equal access by countries to the vaccine, regardless of their status or wealth.

The commitment to extending the construction of Europe. In this regard, Arancha González Laya stressed that Spain has contributed to forging a consensus to set up the European recovery fund, advocates a more social Europe and the construction of the European Health Union.

Boosting bilateral relations with specific regions of the world. The Focus on Africa Strategy, remarked the minister, maps out the commitment to step up ties with the African continent; the Ibero-American Summit held in Andorra strengthens relations with Ibero-America, and Spain is promoting the Southern Neighbourhood of the European Union with countries on the other shore of the Mediterranean.

The commitment to the modernisation of development cooperation. On this point, Arancha González Laya summarised Spain's contributions in response to COVID-19.

The minister reported that 1.7 billion euros have been reallocated so that third countries can respond to COVID-19 and recalled that the President of the Government announced last week that Spain will share 7.5 million vaccine doses with Latin American countries when half of Spain's population is vaccinated. She also indicated that last week Spain sent Brazil six tonnes of material and medical equipment, and this week it will send more than seven tonnes to India to ensure that both countries are able to tackle the new waves of COVID-19 affecting them.

Epidemiological situation and vaccination rate

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe government reviewed the epidemiological data on COVID-19, which show a stabilisation and slowdown compared with previous days in the indicators on the number of infections, deaths, hospital admissions and intensive care unit admissions.

The Government Spokesperson reiterated that we must not drop our guard, particularly in those regions where these indicators are higher than the national average, in order to avoid new spikes in infections.

María Jesús Montero highlighted that more than 11 million people have received at least the first dose of the different vaccines, accounting for 22.8% of the population, while 4 million people have been administered the full dose.

María Jesús Montero also stressed that 2 million doses of vaccines were delivered to Spain on Monday to distribute among the regional governments. "The vaccination rate is being achieved as planned; it has significantly speeded up", said the Government Spokesperson, who stressed that the only recipe for the virus and to recover economic activity is "to vaccinate and vaccinate more".

Against this backdrop María Jesús Montero announced that the President of the Government will visit the basic research centre of the company Janssen in Toledo on Wednesday to express his support and recognition of the scientific sector.

Furthermore, the order for 40 people who have arrived in Spain from India to remain in quarantine will be published in the Official State Gazette.

European Public Prosecution

The government discussed the Draft European Public Prosecution Act, which adapts EU legislation on the EPPO to the Spanish legal system with jurisdiction for criminal offences that prejudice the EU's economic interests and that prosecutes such criminal practices as European aid and subsidy fraud, corruption affecting transferred funds and serious offences of cross-border VAT fraud.

The draft law addresses the change of procedural model necessary to apply the European legislation in Spain. Minister Montero highlighted the creation of a new figure - the bail judge - who will authorise investigation measures that encroach on fundamental rights.

Transposition of European directives

The Council of Ministers transposed, through a royal decree-law, various European directives that affect many areas of the economy, such as jurisdiction, the prevention of money laundering, credit institutions, telecommunications, tax measures, the prevention and restoration of environmental damage, the posting of workers in the provision of cross-border services and consumer defence.

The specific measures contained in the new legislation - "very broad and of a very technical nature", as defined by María Jesús Montero - include the extension of the zero rate VAT for the purchase of protective material against COVID-19 by public authorities, hospitals and social centres until 31 December; the incorporation of the new VAT electronic commerce tax system, which will come into force on 1 July, and the application of most national employment legislation measures to the posting of workers for periods over 12 months, of particular interest for agricultural workers.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work

On the occasion of World Day for Safety and Health at Work, held on 28 April, the Council of Ministers approved an institutional declaration that underlines the effects of the pandemic and highlights new manifestations of occupational hazards such as those regarding remote working.

The Government Spokesperson recalled that this year is the 120th anniversary of the Social Security Act in Spain, which established "objective responsibilities on this matter, socialised occupational hazards when performing work and extended the need for protective measures".

Current affairs

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaDuring her press briefing following the Council of Ministers, María Jesús Montero condemned the threats received by the Minister for Home Affairs, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and other political representatives, and argued that "no threat will push back our democracy", She stated that "these are regrettable incidents that deserve the unanimous condemnation of the whole of society, with no type of excuse or qualification".

The Government Spokesperson expressed the government's sympathies for those people who have been "unjustly threatened" and conveyed her gratitude for the public service they provide.

For her part, Arancha González Laya confirmed the murder of the two Spanish journalists killed in Burkina Faso and expressed her deepest sympathies to their families. Her department is in ongoing contact with the country's authorities to ascertain the scope and the consequences of the attack, as well as the identity of the bodies found at the location of the incidents.

Non official translation