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During presentation of Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan in Extremadura

President of the Government highlights that Spain is very close to having more people vaccinated than infected

Friday 19 February 2021

The event was preceded by a brief meeting between the two leaders at which they addressed questions of interest in various areas for the Autonomous Region of Extremadura.

At the start of his speech, the President of the Government stated that "one task pending action by Spanish democracy is improving the legal protection of the freedom of speech, in line with the regulation existing in most European countries", a matter on which he recalled that "a broad consensus exists in Spanish society" But, he warned that "in a full democracy such as Spain's, the use of violence is unacceptable, which the government will act against", because it represents an "attack on the freedom of others" and the "very denial of democracy itself".

Raft of measures

The President of the Government stressed the value of the initiatives adopted since the start of the pandemic to protect the economic and social fabric, with "more than 200 billion euros to protect companies and 3.6 million workers through Temporary Lay-off Plans (Spanish acronym: ERTEs), the extraordinary benefits for 1.5 million independent contractors, the moratorium on more than 220,000 mortgages and the Minimum Living Income, which has helped 160,000 households with 460,000 people".

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoPedro Sánchez tied these figures into the government's commitment to agreement at two levels: one, with the trade unions and business organisations through social dialogue, which has been shored up in seven major agreements reached to date, and two, with Europe, in pushing through an ambitious joint recovery plan.

In these terms, he also underlined the path of "co-governance at a regional level, through a State strategy approved by all regional governments on the Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System".

More people vaccinated than infected

The President of the Government mentioned the imminent achievement of having more people vaccinated than have been infected. "3.5 million doses have already been distributed to the regional governments of the three vaccines approved to date", he stated. And we hope that in the coming weeks Europe will approve the use of the Janssen vaccine which, due to its characteristics, will give a decisive boost to the vaccination schedule".

The President of the Government recalled that, 50 days after the start of the vaccination process, Spain now has 1.6 million people vaccinated, of which 1.14 million have received the two doses. These are figures that place our country in tenth position in the world in the vaccination process, and fourth in the European Union in terms of doses administered.

Close to 20 million Spaniards vaccinated by the end of the first half of 2021

Pedro Sánchez highlighted the high rate of vaccination in Extremadura, where 83% of the doses delivered have already been administered and expressly thanked the work of the health professionals in this regard. "We are working tirelessly", he declared, "to ensure that by the end of the first half of 2021 close to 20 million Spaniards will be vaccinated, and so that by the end of the summer 70% of all Spaniards will be protected. We will thus gradually achieve herd immunity, protecting the weakest and most exposed first, until the massive and complete vaccination of the country".

European funds driving the economic recovery

The President of the Government referred to the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan as "the driving force behind the economic recovery", which is taking place not just to grow but also "to grow in another manner, taking a path towards a Spain that is more digital, more sustainable, more cohesive and fairer, as well as more feminist", while indicating the alignment between these transformations defined by Europe and the government's agenda, which must also define the action of the regional governments in the implementation of the Plan.

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoIn this regard, Pedro Sánchez underlined the resilience of the Spanish economy and the government's commitment to jobs as a priority, in a scenario that foresees a "prudent yet encouraging" upward trend, which will allow Spain to grow this year by more than the average of its peer countries. In this regard, he highlighted the growth figures for the last two quarters, of 16.4% and 0.4% respectively, better than the analysts' forecasts and which led to the recovery of 730,000 jobs in the second half of 2020.

Research Centre for Energy Storage in Caceres

Regarding one of the fundamental pillars of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan - the ecological transition - Pedro Sánchez highlighted the important role of Extremadura, "the leading region of Spain in terms of installed photovoltaic power, and second in thermo-solar power, and one of the benchmark low carbon economies in Europe".

In this regard, he announced that "in collaboration with the Regional Government of Extremadura, we are going to boost the leading role played by the region through the construction of the National Research Centre for Energy Storage in Caceres".

This is "a centre, with an international vocation, with an investment of 70 million euros which will contribute to resolving the scientific and technological challenges of green hydrogen and batteries", he highlighted, sectors that arouse the interest of many companies in this region.

Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan

The President of the Government praised the performance of large companies, SMEs and other entities in the two provinces of Extremadura, which are paving the way with innovative initiatives in the region, aligned with the four major transformations - the ecological transition, digitalisation, social and territorial cohesion and equality between men and women - which define the essence of a Plan structured through 10 defining guiding policies.

To boost the implementation of the Plan, Pedro Sánchez underlined the government's efforts to eliminate bottlenecks, to which end he praised the recent legislative reforms enacted by the Regional Government of Extremadura, which shares this philosophy, to enable, within its jurisdiction "the management of the funds to be improved and speeded up".

Strategic commitment to education and training

The President of the Government recalled that "almost 20% of the total resources under the Plan will be concentrated in the field of education, with a 70% increase in the Budget, to reach almost 4.9 billion euros".

In these terms, he reiterated the government's commitment to the full connectivity of the university network and to grants, with an historic budgetary allocation of 2.09 billion euros, and the commitment to the Digital Education Programme, which will facilitate more than 430,000 devices to students at public centres at risk of digital disconnection.

The President of the Government considered it essential "to strengthen modern, inclusive and quality public education that leaves no child behind", and that it is necessary to complement this with a genuine "revolution in training", through the new Vocational Training Act, which is essential to combat the school drop-out rate and to push through quality, avant-garde vocational training. To this end, he highlighted the target of creating 200,000 new places over the next three years and of updating qualifications to cater for the offer from emerging sectors.

Investment in railways, an act of justice with Extremadura

Lastly, the President of the Government referred to the impact of the National Budget in Extremadura, which provides for a volume of resources of 3.73 billion euros, with a real investment of 415 million euros, and a 7.5% increase on the previous budgetary framework.

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Fernando CalvoPedro Sánchez expressly highlighted the government's commitment to investment in railway infrastructures. "This land has been promised a great deal but the people of Extremadura cannot live off of promises, but of realities, and I will humbly say to you that I want to see justice done for Extremadura". In this regard, he underlined the planned investment of 117 million euros by ADIF in the Madrid-Extremadura High-Speed Line, as part of the Madrid-Lisbon project.

Similarly, the President of the Government highlighted the impact of other planned investments, such as the Zafra relief road off the N-432, the Merida-Puertollano Extremadura Corridor, the refurbishment of the María Luisa Theatre and the extension and fit-out of the National Museum of Roman Art, both in Merida, and the new bridge in Cabezuela del Valle.

To conclude, he tied in these actions with the commitment shown by the Regional Government of Extremadura in its regional budget that is fully aligned with the great transformations that guide the national public accounts and the European funds under the Recovery Plan.

Non official translation