Council of Ministers

Government of Spain regulates lobbying activities to ensure transparency

Council of Ministers - 2022.11.8

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Moncloa Palace, Madrid

The Council of Ministers has approved the Draft Bill on Transparency and Integrity in the Activities of Interest Groups, which will now begin its public information process.

For the first time, the activity of these groups, also known as lobbies, will be regulated in their relations with the General State Administration (AGE) and its public sector, clarifying how relations between those who seek to exercise legitimate influence and the senior officials, managers and public employees involved in decision-making and in the processes of drafting regulatory provisions and public policies should take place.

Transparency in lobbying activities

The Minister for Treasury and Public Function, María Jesús Montero, during her speech at the press conference after the Council of Ministers | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The Minister for Treasury and Public Function, María Jesús Montero, has stated that this new regulation is the outcome of the government's "commitment to improving the quality of democracy in our country" and will allow Spain to take a great step forward in terms of transparency and good governance, bringing it into line with the most advanced democracies in neighbouring countries.

The draft bill states that an activity of influence will be considered to be that which a group or organisation carries out in an attempt to legitimately influence public decision-makers in the drafting of a regulatory project. "Therefore, all groups that organise themselves privately for the benefit of their interests or those of third parties are included in the object of this regulation," Montero explained.

Public administrations, public bodies and international organisations, and foreign public authorities, political parties, business organisations, trade unions or any other entities, such as professional associations, in the exercise of their constitutional functions will not be considered as lobbies.

Register of interest groups of the AGE

The Transparency Portal and the website of the Conflicts of Interest Office will host a Register of Interest Groups, which will detail their activity, specifically including what meetings they have with senior officials or civil servants involved in the rulemaking or rule-design process.

The minister emphasised that these activities will also be reflected in the Regulatory Impact Analysis Report of each regulation "to constitute a trace that allows us to verify who, when and on what subject participation took place in its design or drafting".

Entry in the register is compulsory and must identify the lobbies' areas of interest, their purpose and corporate purpose, and financial information for the last accounting year, expressly indicating the part attributable to lobbying activity.

Registered groups must also comply with a code of conduct, and a system of penalties is established in the event of infringements.

Groups that are not registered will not be able to contact public personnel for lobbying activities.

Last, and to combat, in the minister's words, "revolving doors", Law 3/2015 regulating the exercise of senior positions in the National Government will be amended to include that a senior public official may not carry out professional activities of influence in matters related to their competencies for two years after leaving that position.

Report on budgetary stability

The Executive has analysed the second report on the degree of compliance with budget stability objectives, as established in Organic Law 2/2012 on Budgetary Stability and Financial Sustainability.

Excluding financial aid, Spain closed the public deficit in 2021 at 6.77% of GDP, which is 3.2 points lower than in the previous year. "This is the largest reduction in the public deficit in its history, demonstrating this government's commitment to budgetary stability", the finance minister stressed.

Montero has advanced that the goal for 2022 is to continue improving the budget balance and to make budgetary responsibility compatible with measures to support families, the self-employed and companies and the strengthening of public services.

5-P Plan for Personalised Precision Medicine

The Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, during her speech at the press conference after the Council of Ministers | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The Council of Ministers has authorised the distribution among the Autonomous Communities of €40 million for Plan 5-P for the consolidation of Precision Personalised Medicine, one of the aspects included in the PERTE for Cutting-Edge Health.

The Minister for Health, Carolina Darias, explained that the name of this plan reflects the characteristics of this type of medicine: personalised, predictive, preventive, participatory and population-based: "It is tailored to the needs of each patient and their genetic profile, acts proactively by anticipating potential risk and, before the disease develops, puts the patient at the centre and aims for universal access".

With the 5-P Plan, the acquisition of equipment, technological improvements, information systems, staff training and the creation and consolidation of regional genetics commissions, among other aspects, will be able to be carried out and financed. The aim is that "all patients, wherever they live or whatever hospital they go to, receive the same care and have access to the genetic determinations necessary for the best diagnosis or treatment of their disease, deploying all the necessary infrastructure for this purpose," said Darias.

The minister recalled the importance of genetic testing in tackling diseases, as it enables early diagnosis, improves prognosis in diseases with a high health and social impact (such as rare, oncological or undiagnosed diseases) and facilitates deciding on the optimal pharmacological treatment.

The common portfolio of the National Health System has been updated with general aspects of care for patients and their families, including genetic and genomic analysis. This update will enter into force and become effective shortly, pending the publication of the corresponding ministerial order.

In a second phase, a homogeneous service catalogue will be drawn up for the whole of Spain. Darias pointed out that work is being carried out in 18 specific thematic areas, the first of which will be oncohematology in early 2023.

Spanish vaccine Hipra

The Executive has agreed to join the Framework Supply Contract signed by the European Commission to purchase 250 million doses of the Spanish Hipra vaccine against Covid-19.

Carolina Darias said that this vaccine has proven a high degree of safety and immunity in clinical trials, has a high efficacy against variants of the virus, including Omicron, and is more versatile in terms of use because the storage temperature is 2.8 degrees.

The minister conveyed her assurance that she would soon receive authorisation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

With regard to the vaccination campaign that began on 26 September to administer the second booster dose, Darias encouraged people to take part because "vaccines continue to save lives". So far, 3.6 million people have done so. In Spain, the full course of vaccines has been administered to 92.8% of the population over 12 years of age.

Investments in public infrastructure

The Government Spokesperson and Minister for Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodríguez, during her speech at the press conference after the Council of Ministers | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The Government spokesperson and Minister for Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodríguez, has reviewed several public infrastructure projects approved by the Council of Ministers.

First, in relation to the High Speed Train linking León with Asturias, Adif Alta Velocidad (Adif AV) will tender the infrastructure, track and switches and crossings maintenance contract for the Galicia Junction (León's north exit)-La Robla-Pola de Lena section, which includes the newly built Pajares Bypass, which is not yet in service. The estimated value is €28.4 million (excluding VAT) for a period of four years, with a possible extension of one more year.

A total of €20.2 million (excluding VAT) will also be invested in Asturias over the next three years for the maintenance and operation of more than 150 kilometres of state roads, while in Castilla La-Mancha the same will be done in the province of Albacete, with a contract worth an estimated €24 million (excluding VAT) over the same period.

The Executive has also authorised the signing of an agreement between Adif and the Generalitat of Catalonia for the design, financing and execution of the remodelling and extension works at Vilamalla station (Girona), with the aim of improving its accessibility and enabling the dispatch to/reception of trains up to 750 metres in standard gauge at the logistics terminal in this town. The total amount of these actions until 2025 is estimated at €13,790,360, of which €13,080,000 will be co-financed by the two administrations.

Isabel Rodríguez pointed out that this agreement is part of "the strategic objective of the Mediterranean Corridor and the transport of goods by train to achieve a more sustainable development and transport".

Care for unaccompanied migrant minors

The Government has approved a budget allocation of €20 million to be distributed among the Canary Islands, Ceuta and the rest of the autonomous communities for the care of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents, who will be welcomed by the reception communities from the territories with the greatest number of minors. The Sectoral Conference on Childhood and Adolescence will definitively agree on the objective criteria and territorial distribution.

The amount of €20 million corresponds to the second payment of the total €35 million budgeted by the Ministry of Social Rights to support the care of these unaccompanied migrant minors. The first distribution was destined for the Canary Islands and Ceuta and Melilla as they are the most affected regions, given that they are the main access points for migratory routes from Africa to Europe.

Non official translation