The Government is concerned about the management that the communities can make of European funds. Of the 70,000 million that go to Spain in aid, this year the Executive expects to commit some 34,600 million, of which 54% will have to be spent by the autonomies. And if a region fails to execute the resources assigned to it, then it would jeopardize national objectives and Brussels could go so far as to withhold disbursements for the country as a whole. For this reason, the Government has asked the communities to adopt new regulations to streamline their spending procedures.
The government will send the EU an investment and reform plan so that the funds can be spent. And Brussels will make a demanding examination twice a year of the objectives and milestones committed to in that plan. It is enough for a community not to be able to execute its assigned items on time for that to affect Brussels’ evaluation of the entire plan. And this would mean that it could harm the delivery of funds for the country as a whole, explained Manuel de la Rocha, Secretary General for Economic Affairs of the Presidency’s Cabinet, in two different forums held at the Alternativas Foundation and at Esade.
On Thursday, during the first meeting of the sectoral conference to coordinate European funds, the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, reminded the regional councilors that the system was not only based on co-governance, but also on joint responsibility: “The beneficiary it is the whole of the State and it is necessary to achieve general objectives, which requires compliance by all public administrations ”, said the press release of his ministry.
For this reason, the Government is encouraging the communities to streamline their spending procedures, just as the Executive of Sánchez has done with the royal decree law that it approved on December 31 to modernize the Administration. This text tries to speed up all the procedures, the mandatory reports and the bureaucracy so that the European manna can be spent as soon as possible. What’s more: the Government is asking the autonomies to make mirror decrees of their own.
The structure with which the funds will be spent is complex. To try to speed up the execution, the Government has already included in the Budgets some 24,000 million of the Next Generation EU mechanism. And more than 2,000 million of the React EU destined to Health. In total, some 27,000 million that the Executive is going to advance taking advantage of the Budget. And then expect to receive from Europe. Its management will be done through contracts, grants or agreements launched by the ministries in an open process of competitive competition.
However, not everything will be managed by the ministries. Communities have competencies in the environment, energy, transportation, education, health, housing or water. And in those matters the ministries will transfer the funds through the relevant sectoral conference. In total, the Budgets contemplate some 10,700 million in transfers of European funds to the autonomies. The ministry on duty will sign a kind of framework agreement or regulation with the communities in which the criteria, the objectives and the distribution of the money will be set. And the autonomous government will have to implement the spending.
In addition, there are 8,000 million this year and 2,000 million the following from the React EU fund, which the communities will be able to request and whose distribution the Treasury informed the regional councilors in December. In order to obtain these resources, the autonomies will have to present projects that meet the criteria of the React EU, an instrument that above all can be used to pay for the formation of human capital.
In other words, the communities will have around 18,000 million to spend this year, just over half of the funds.
According to the European funds regulation, the EU will disburse the money twice a year. And for the funds to be released, the country has to meet certain milestones and objectives that show that the money is being used. These are national, and in the cases in which the communities participate, the objective will not be more than the sum of what the autonomies do. With more than half of the funds in your hands, your ability to execute will be decisive. “If one is delayed, whatever it is, it will affect everyone,” De la Rocha said.
The first disbursement will arrive in summer
The first arrival of European funds is delayed by two months until June or July. First, the government will send the reform and investment plan before April 30, probably in early February. The Commission then has two months to examine it. And one month the Ecofin and the Council of leaders. So, if the plan is approved, in June or July an advance of 13% of the total of 70,000 million would be paid.
The EU calculates the maximum that can be received from European funds per country. But then governments have to come up with plans to get that money spent. And the Commission strongly insists that projects be decided after a consultative process with social agents, sectors, experts, companies, and regional and local administrations.
The PP communities complain that Moncloa is not informing them while they suspect that the rest do have their projects almost agreed. Some argue that the distribution of React EU resources has not been fair. The Treasury replies that for this instrument the same criteria have been used as in the EU to distribute resources by country.