The autonomous communities already have 7,230 million of European Next Generation funds of the nearly 10,500 that will be allocated this year to regional governments. This was stated this Monday by the Minister of Finance and Public Function, María Jesús Montero, after meeting with the regional councilors of the branch at the third meeting of the sectoral conference on the Transformation, Modernization and Resilience Plan.
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, had already announced in the meeting with the regional presidents last week that the communities will manage 55% of the 19,000 of the Next Generation fund that the EU will give to Spain in 2021, a percentage equivalent to about 10,500 million euros. Montero has detailed that the first 9,000 million will arrive in the next few days, and that by the end of the year the other 10,000 million will be incorporated.
The head of the Treasury explained that these aids, aimed at the materialization of the reforms and investments contemplated in the recovery plan sent to Brussels, are distributed with a different logic from that of other funds that the communities had managed until now. The criteria are decided at each sectoral conference between the different competent ministries and regional councilors, based on the leverage policies established by the EU. “It costs to change this chip,” said the minister.
According to the breakdown offered by Montero, the Ministry of Transportation has already allocated 1,631 million in the housing sector conference; 1,410 million have been distributed in education; 1,087 million in ecological transition; 731 million for care policies; 688 million in employment policies; 399 million in healthcare for high-tech equipment; the equality, culture and justice conferences have distributed 90 million each. In addition, Montero has pointed out that there are another 118 million for the public function whose distribution has already been authorized, and 1,230 through royal decrees for policies such as electric mobility or self-consumption. In total, more than 7,200 million that will have a neutral effect on the national accounts, since they will not have an impact on deficit and surplus effects.
Some opposition communities have criticized the lack of information and have alleged that the Next Generation cast is being a mess. “[Es] a chaos, where each ministry is applying different procedures and criteria “, has denounced the Minister of Finance of Murcia, Luis Alberto Marín (PP), who has asked that” take into account the additional costs that the execution may entail ” of the funds and has warned that the supervisory bodies are pointing out material errors in the calls of the different sectors.
His Madrid counterpart, Javier Fernández-Lasquetty (PP), has also lashed out at the Executive’s management for transferring funds to the autonomies in an “atomized” and “remote-controlled manner from the Pedro Sánchez government,” without leaving any margin for the communities. “It’s going to look a lot like Plan E, but multiplied by two ”, he said after the meeting. “Once again the Government of Pedro Sánchez brings us together with the autonomous communities to talk about European funds and again neither gives us information, nor does it consult us at all (…) There is neither dialogue nor joint work with the autonomous communities, at least with the ones we were meeting today. I don’t know if there is a privilege with Catalonia, which has a table today and they are reaching agreements with them ”, he added. The owner of Hacienda de Andalucía, Juan Bravo (PP), for his part, has asked for more collaboration and information.
Montero has insisted that the allocation criteria are established in each sector with the different ministries “because it is required by the structure of the plan,” although it is ensured that there is territorial cohesion. “It is a country project, which is much more than the sum of 17 autonomous communities.”
The minister has assured that the meeting this Monday “has been friendly, affable, from the respect”, and that there is no favorable treatment towards Catalonia, since in the bilateral conferences of the Generalitat with the Government only bilateral matters are addressed and not multilateral such as European funds.
Montero has added that, to ensure the correct use of the funds, technical collaboration mechanisms will be put in place between the ministry and the regional and municipal administrations that will crystallize in mandatory reports on the degree of execution of the components of the recovery plan. These management and monitoring tools will be promoted through two ministerial orders that, according to the head of Finance, is supervising the European Commission and that have been transferred to regional governments so that they make their contributions and can thus be published in the next days.
Montero has clarified that, in the event that circumstances arise whereby a community is unable to carry out a project, the funds it had allocated will be distributed so as not to compromise the final result at the country level. “We are facing a unique opportunity that we must take advantage of and there is no confrontational policy,” said the minister. “You have to row in the same direction.”