The Government of Spain approves a plan for energy saving and air conditioning management

Council of Ministers - 2022.8.1

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Moncloa Palace, Madrid

The Council of Ministers has approved a Royal Decree-Law on economic sustainability measures, which includes a Shock Plan for Energy Saving and Management in Air Conditioning to reduce energy consumption in administrative buildings, public buildings and shops, and to facilitate compliance with European commitments arising from the conflict in Ukraine, as explained by the third vice-president and minister for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera.

The cooling of these buildings may not be set below 27 degrees Celsius and the heating may not be set above 19 degrees Celsius. The access doors to the premises will have automatic locks and the lights in shop windows will be switched off at 10 pm. In addition, properties will have to carry out an extraordinary revision of their boilers and thermal installations before 31 December 2022, if the last one was done before 1 January 2021.

The standard also includes measures to replace fossil fuels with renewables. To this end, the processing of electricity networks and infrastructures will be speeded up, the injection of renewable gases into the gas pipeline network will be facilitated and storage and self-consumption will be boosted. "We cannot afford to lose a single kilowatt-hour," said Teresa Ribera.

Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

In addition, the Third Vice-President announced that the Executive has approved a Royal Decree-Law on urgent measures to improve the capacity to respond to forest fires throughout the year. The new regulation introduces improvements in aspects such as prevention, extinction and restoration of affected forest land. Ribera stressed that "we must be prepared to attend to the whole territory, not just the parts that are considered particularly vulnerable and sensitive".

Scholarships, study grants and transport

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, informed that the Royal Decree approved today also includes economic measures in the field of transport and in the area of grants and study aids.

The text establishes a supplementary amount of 100 euros per month for the period from September to December 2022 for all beneficiaries of scholarships, grants and subsidies from the call for general scholarships for the 2022-2023 academic year, for students following post-compulsory studies and for those with specific educational support needs.

Isabel Rodríguez estimated that around one million students could benefit from this aid. In this way, the government is responding to families who are being affected by the economic situation resulting from Russia's aggression in Ukraine and the increase in inflation, as well as guaranteeing equal opportunities.

Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Transport improvements

In the field of transport, the Executive has approved free travel on commuter trains for frequent users between 1 September and 31 December. Special multi-journey passes will be created for commuter, rolling stock and medium-distance trains, which will be free for users who make 16 journeys in four months, in addition to the 50% discount on Avant passes.

In addition, new vouchers with 50% discounts are being created for recurrent users of high-speed commercial routes on 13 journeys of up to 100 minutes.

The spokeswoman also pointed out that the Executive has agreed on a new Royal Decree-Law aimed at making progress on the economic sustainability of road freight transport, which guarantees that hauliers work at a fair price and provides more than 450 million euros in direct aid to the sector. The government is thereby responding to the sector's historical demands.

Future Law on Classified Information

The Minister for the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Democratic Memory, Félix Bolaños, has presented the future Law on Classified Information, which will replace the current Law on Official Secrets, approved in 1968 and reformed in October 1978, before the Constitution was approved.

Bolaños stated that it is an "advanced and protective" law, which replaces a pre-constitutional law and is adapted to the Constitution and to the standards for the treatment of classified information of the European Union and NATO partners. In his view, the rule strikes a balance between transparency and the right to know, on the one hand, and national security, on the other.

Main novelties

Today's Draft Law establishes four categories of classification: top secret, secret, confidential and restricted. Each level is assigned a different level of protection depending on the danger that unauthorised disclosure or misuse may pose to national security or defence.

Félix Bolaños detailed that the competence to classify any document as top secret and secret lies with the Council of Ministers. The classification as restricted or confidential may be made by certain authorities, such as the heads of ministries, the director of the National Intelligence Centre, the director of the National Security Department, the delegates and sub-delegates of the Government and the directors general of the Police and the Guardia Civil.

For the first time in the history of Spain, the law provides for automatic declassification after a certain period of time, depending on the level of protection of the cases.

Top secret content will be declassified after 50 years and may be extended for a further 15 years; and secret content after 40 years, with an extension of up to 10 years. Information classified as confidential will be declassified between 7 and 10 years and restricted information between 4 and 6 years. These deadlines, according to the minister, "are reviewable".

Bolaños added that the National Authority for the Protection of Classified Information has been created, coming under the Ministry of the Presidency, Parliamentary Relations and Democratic Memory, as the body that will be responsible for the protection and processing of top secret, secret and confidential information produced in Spain and that which comes from other states or international organisations. In addition, it will assess the suitability of persons who should have access to such information, grant clearance for its professional processing and regulate parliamentary access.

Félix Bolaños also advanced that the text establishes the guarantees for the treatment, protection and custody of the information, the consultation of which will preferably be carried out in the office where it is filed.

In case of improper dissemination, fines could range from 50,000 euros to 3 million euros, without prejudice to any criminal liability.

The minister stressed that the text presented today can be improved before returning to the Council of Ministers as a Draft Law and, once it has been submitted to Parliament, during the parliamentary process.

Care economy

The Council of Ministers has approved the proposal for the territorial distribution of almost 900 million euros from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, to finance projects to activate the care economy.

To this effect, the government continues to move forward in the construction of a new state care system that makes care a right in itself. Moreover, he said, it brings with it the opportunity to create quality employment and to generate positive effects on the economic fabric.

The spokesperson specified that the funds will be used to finance investments in the autonomous communities and local authorities for long-term care, modernisation of social services and the Accessible Spain Country Plan.

Animal rights and welfare

The Government has agreed to refer to the Courts the Animal Rights and Welfare Draft Law, which is a pioneering piece of legislation to protect and guarantee their rights.

The aim of the regulation is to put an end to the mistreatment, abandonment and slaughter of animals. It also promotes best practices, establishes a common framework throughout the territory and updates the penalties for animal abuse offences, which can lead to fines of 200 euros and prison sentences.

Accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO

The Council of Ministers has agreed to send the protocol on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO to the Spanish General Courts for examination.

Isabel Rodríguez said that "these are all endorsements that add to the defence of democracies vis-à-vis Putin's attacks".

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