More participation. The autonomous communities have faced a common front and have asked the Treasury to have more weight in the management of the aid that the EU has granted to Spain to promote recovery. They made it clear in the virtual face-to-face held on Thursday between the regional councilors and the minister of the branch María Jesús Montero, at the heart of the first sector conference in charge of coordinating the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism. Now, it remains to be seen how it will be done.
Montero, for now, has agreed to review the internal operating regulations of this conference between regions and the Treasury. In principle, the proposal attributed to the Treasury the same number of votes as the communities (19) plus one for the quality of the minister. A system that the regions have rejected en bloc, including those of the PSOE, since de facto it gave the ministry a veto right. The minister has also promised that the Federation of Spanish Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) have a voice and vote in this new co-governance body. The Treasury will present a new regulation at the next meeting, which has no date yet.
Some communities, such as the Valencian (PSOE), assure that they will not present concrete allegations about the new regulation, considering that the Treasury has already committed to improving co-governance. Others, such as Andalusia (PP-Ciudadanos), clarify that proposals were already advanced during the meeting and that there are other points of friction. One of them is that this sectoral body will not be the only one from which they receive information, since the aid from the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism will be managed by project. In other words, there will be meetings with other ministries depending on the type of investment. “It is something that contradicts the very nature of this conference, and even the co-governance that in theory is intended,” comment sources from the Andalusian Ministry of Finance.
The complaint on this point was extended. The Region of Murcia proposed that the conference prevail to set the guidelines. Something before which “the Minister of Finance was inflexible defending that the funds should be distributed at each sectoral conference,” regret sources from the regional council. “If this conference does not have the capacity to set budget balances and decide on the distribution of funds, it will be just a useless pantomime,” they add.
Although without ever getting into a fight, other communities were dissatisfied with this system. “We ask that the decision-making mechanism favor consultation,” explains Carlos Fernández Carriedo, Minister of the Treasury of Castilla y León (PP). “It seems appropriate that the sector conference also discuss and address the reforms that accompany this plan, guaranteeing companies access under equal conditions,” he adds.
Complaints about the distribution of REACT-EU
In which there was no unanimity was in the complaints by the REACT-EU fund, endowed with 10,000 million euros and whose distribution in detail – which is by territory, and not by project – was communicated to the autonomous communities at the end of December . The PP regions (Andalusia, Castilla y León, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, which was joined by the autonomous city of Ceuta) took the matter to the sectoral conference, despite being disconnected from it. Last Wednesday they had already signed a joint statement denouncing that the allocations had not been transparent and had been adopted unilaterally, benefiting certain communities for political reasons.
“The distribution seems deeply unfair to us,” laments Fernández Carriedo. It indicates that Castilla y León would receive almost 600 million instead of 335 if the same criteria that are used to allocate the resources of regional financing were applied. “A model that does not like either,” he clarifies. Therefore, it asks for adjustments that take into account the extension of the territory and the population, two criteria that the Treasury has not considered to establish the distribution.
The department headed by María Jesús Montero has applied the same criteria that Brussels has used with the states to calculate the REACT-EU allocations: drop in GDP, unemployment rate and youth unemployment. The Community of Madrid regrets, however, that the calculations used have not been transparent, since there is still no official data that includes the impact of the pandemic in each region in the variables analyzed. Sources from the Ministry of Finance of Aragon (PSOE) insist that what worries them the most is the proper use of funds and regret that a front can be opened between the Government and the regions.
The five communities of the PP and Ceuta reiterated to the Treasury, in Thursday’s meeting, to convene a Fiscal and Financial Policy Council, the meeting where regional financing issues are discussed, to review the distribution of REACT-EU. A request that, for the moment, has fallen on deaf ears.