The Government of Spain favours the creation of 65,000 free public school places for children from 0 to 3 years of age

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Tuesday 16 November 2021

The Council of Ministers has authorised the distribution of 200 million euros among the regional governments to create 21,000 new public nursery school places for children aged 0-3 years old.

This item, included in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, will be completed in 2022 and 2023 to reach a total investment of 670.1 million euros, which will allow the creation of more than 65,000 free public places.

The Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Pilar Alegría, stressed at the press conference following the meeting by the Executive that all reports point to early schooling being essential for children's successful educational development. It also considers the measure to have a strong social impact because it will help more than 65,000 families, regardless of their family income, to be able to send their children to school in the first months of their childhood.

Alegría pointed out that some families do not send children under the age of four to school because they cannot afford the cost of places. The measure approved today directly addresses this problem because the places are public, free of charge and will be created in centres of the highest educational quality. This relieves the family economy and helps to reconcile work, personal and family life.

"We are setting the social lift in motion from the earliest ages in order to move towards true equality of opportunities for all", said the minister.

Pilar Alegría added that the distribution has taken into account the level of education of the population in each autonomous community, the school enrolment rates of children aged 0, 1 and 2 and the dispersion of the population.

Funds for the re-qualification of workers

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa The Government has also authorised the distribution of 87.7 million euros, within the framework of the Recovery Plan, for the qualification and re-qualification of more than 300,000 workers.

According to the minister, the aim is for these people to improve their qualifications and be better prepared to respond to the challenges demanded by the productive fabric. "The qualification and re-qualification of our country's human capital is one of the essential requirements for successfully tackling the transformation of our economy, for which we need trained, well-qualified workers who respond to the needs of each productive sector", explained Pilar Alegría.

Training actions will prioritise training in emerging sectors, which are included in the Vocational Training Modernisation Plan.

The Education Minister specified that the measure pays special attention to sectors with more workers affected by Temporary Redundancy Programmes (ERTEs), to areas linked to the care of people and to areas at risk of depopulation.

Regulation of assessment, promotion and qualifications

The Executive has approved the Royal Decree that regulates the evaluation, promotion and qualification of the different educational stages. The changes will come into effect this academic year.

Pilar Alegría stressed that the measure contemplates the integration of all educational stages and focuses on continuous assessment: "We are taking a further step in the direction of strengthening the personalisation of all learning processes".

The evaluation process, she added, emphasises the early detection of students' difficulties, provides for reinforcement measures as soon as necessary and remedial measures.

The Royal Decree states that repeating a year must be an absolutely exceptional measure that will only be taken after all reinforcement and support measures have been exhausted, and provided that it is considered to be the most appropriate measure to favour the pupil's development.

In the Baccalaureate, progressing from the first and second year will require a maximum of two subjects not passed, with continuous and differentiated assessment per subject.

The minister emphasised that the collaborative work of the teaching teams, who will be the ones to decide jointly on the learning process, will be reinforced. "We are facing a new evaluation model that promotes a school culture based on trust, collaborative work and participation," she concluded.

Modernisation and reinforcement of the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Council of Ministers has approved the Strategic Plan for the Labour and Social Security Inspectorate (2021-2023), which envisages increasing the number of Labour Inspection staff, investing in training and improving the conditions in which this public service is provided, and committing to the widespread use of technology, both in the inspection activity and in relations with the public.

The Second Vice-President of the Government of Spain and Minister for Work and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, has defined the Labour Inspectorate as a key institution in guaranteeing labour rights in our country: "In the social rule of law, and in order to guarantee the protection of the weakest, it is not enough to have good rules, but also that these rules are complied with, and the part that guarantees compliance with these rules in the world of work is called the Labour Inspectorate".

The Plan presented today is going to be "one of the great tools for transforming the labour relations model in our country", continued the Vice-President, who highlighted its innovative nature and its "absolutely modern" approach, closer to the current realities of labour conflict and in line with the parameters of other European countries.

Anticipation, fight against fraud and instability

The Vice-President explained that the premise of the Plan is to anticipate any possibility of fraud in the labour market, so as not to limit itself to just repairing it: "What we are doing now is to open up the focus completely, to make all public action transversal and to broaden our vision to include everything related to guaranteeing the rights of workers".

The fight against fraud will be a priority objective, continuing the current line, in which the activity of the Labour Inspectorate multiplied by 355% between January and May of this year alone, "the record of all its historical series", Díaz stressed. The existing Anti-Fraud Office will be joined by a second one to deal with transnational fraud, and will be closely linked to EU and Latin American countries and to the International Labour Organization.

Another key focus will be to combat job insecurity. The Employment Minister gave the campaign carried out to control temporary contracts lasting longer than the 24 months stipulated by law as an example, which has served to convert 267,000 employment contracts into permanent contracts.

A specialised anti-discrimination office will be set up to act in the employment relationship from the beginning to the end of the professional career and to avoid, among other things, differences or difficulties in access to the labour market based on sex, age, origin or sexual identity.

Own budget and staff reinforcement

The Labour and Social Security Inspectorate has, for the first time, its own budget, and it plans to reinforce staffing levels, bring in new specialised profiles and enhance the use of artificial intelligence.

Draft Telecommunications Law

The Council of Ministers has approved the referral to Parliament of the General Telecommunications Law, which encourages investment and promotes the creation of a single point for information and the processing of permits for the roll out of these networks, and also regulates electronic communications services.

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, explained that the regulation is part of the reforms for the modernisation and digitalisation of the country committed to the European Union through the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, with the intention of making Spain the digital interconnection hub of southern Europe.

The Plan foresees four billion euros of investment to extend connectivity to 100% of the population by 2025, as set out in the Spain Digital Agenda 2025, and to strengthen the development of 5G and cybersecurity.

The rights of Spanish users are strengthened, harmonised with those of the rest of the European Union and new rights are introduced with regard to the portability of telephone lines. Contracts must also be accessible to users with a functional diversity.

Regulation of customer services

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa The government has given the go-ahead to the draft law to regulate customer services. The future regulation will establish the right of consumers to obtain free, effective, accessible, inclusive, non-discriminatory and assessable care from the provider of goods and services.

The text improves communications between consumers and businesses, establishes obligations in the form of providing information, dealing with incidents and resolving complaints and claims, "and even proclaims the right to be dealt with by a physical person and not by a robot via an answering machine", the Government spokesperson stressed.

Basic utilities should provide a 24-hour, round-the-clock service and ensure accessibility to care services for vulnerable consumers, such as those with disabilities or the elderly.

All large companies - with more than 250 employees, with an annual turnover of more than 50 million euros or with a balance sheet of more than 43 million euros - and, regardless of their size, those providing basic services of general interest, such as water and energy, transport, telephone services or financial services, will have to adapt to the new regulation.

Resources for regional governments

Funds for digitisation and research

The regional governments will receive a package of resources earmarked for connectivity and research under the Recovery Plan, the Executive agreed today.

Firstly, they will receive 360 million euros from 2021 to 2023 for digitisation and connectivity projects: "It is about advancing and accelerating the universalisation of broadband access, ultrafast broadband throughout Spain, including bringing 5G to rural areas," said Isabel Rodríguez.

These funds will be used to boost connectivity in reference centres such as hospitals, educational centres, industrial estates and logistics centres; to provide connectivity vouchers for vulnerable groups of up to 240 euros per year; and to adapt telecommunications infrastructures in buildings constructed before 2000.

It also includes 134 million euros to fund the first four joint research plans, targeting key strategic areas: biotechnology applied to health, marine sciences, quantum communications and renewable hydrogen. Four additional supplementary plans are expected to be signed in the first half of 2022.

Transport and mobility

The Government has also approved the Royal Decree that regulates the 400 million euros in aid that the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Mitma) is going to transfer to the regional governments and cities under the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan to promote the decarbonisation of professional transport.

Partial pardon for Juana Rivas

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la BellacasaThe Council of Ministers has agreed to grant Juana Rivas, convicted of child abduction, a partial pardon that reduces her current prison sentence from 2 years and 6 months to a prison sentence of 1 year and 3 months. It also commuted the current sentence of special disqualification from exercising parental authority for 6 years to 180 days of community service.

The measure of pardon, provided for in the Constitution and in law, has been taken following the procedure and the reports of the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecutor's Office, and taking into consideration, fundamentally, the interests of the minors - her two children - "and the vital circumstances in which this woman had to face those decisions for which she was condemned by the justice system", said the government spokesperson.

Current Affairs

At the beginning of the press conference held after the meeting of the Council of Ministers, Isabel Rodríguez referred to the meeting that took place this morning between the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, members of the Executive and the general secretaries of the CCOO and UGT (trade unions).

She said the meeting served to celebrate the agreement reached on the Intergenerational Equity Mechanism (IEM) for the guarantee of pensions: "What this Government is doing is moving towards a fair recovery for all, in which no one is left behind, neither the young, nor the elderly who receive their pensions today, nor those who will receive them tomorrow".

Rodríguez stated that fair recovery means attending to the most vulnerable, with measures such as this and also with, among others, the implementation of the Minimum Basic Income (IMV), the increase in the Minimum Salary (SMI), the 3.7% increase in public employees' salaries and the coverage of ERTEs.

Non official translation