The execution of European funds in Spain is more delayed than initially expected and the administrations are rushing the deadlines of some of the calls in order to speed it up and get the money to the productive fabric as soon as possible. In 76 of the around 400 calls already launched by the administrations and compiled by the employer CEOE in a report, the deadlines given to entrepreneurs do not exceed 15 days (there are cases of up to 4 days), with the consequent difficulty of access to information that this entails.
On December 9, it was published in the State official newsletter an announcement to tender a contract for the supply of a specialized microscope for the Institute of Nanoscience of Aragon, belonging to the CSIC, for an amount of two million euros. The announcement gave a deadline until December 13 (4 days later) at 2:00 p.m. for the presentation of an offer or request to participate. “The design of the calls is making it difficult for SMEs and the self-employed to access the funds,” complains the CEOE employers’ association in its recent ‘Monitoring Report on Next Generation EU funds in Spain’.
Another example: on October 5, the BOE published the tender announcement for a technical assistance contract by the Ministry of Inclusion for the preparation of a Plan with which to reorder and simplify the system of non-contributory economic benefits of the State, for an amount of 3.6 million. The BOE reported a deadline until October 11 (six days later) for the submission of offers. The consultants PWC, Accenture and KPMG were awarded.
The data compiled by CEOE, with the help of the Fandit subsidy platform, includes some 450 calls for a total of some 11,000 million, according to the employer’s association. Of this total, about 50 are upcoming calls, already announced, but not yet open. Of the total of 400 calls launched for subsidies and public contracts analysed, corresponding to the State, autonomous communities and some municipalities charged to European funds Next Generation EU, around 19% were made with terms of less than 15 days.
On the contrary, there are deadlines for access to grants open for several years, until the end of 2023. This is the case, for example, of the plan MOVES III, aid for the acquisition of electric vehicles. For this reason, the average period rises to 113 days in the case of the State and 400 days in the case of the autonomous communities. In most cases, however, the term is between 25 and 30 days. Four of the 16 calls for grants launched by the Government of Catalonia (some already closed) include terms of just 20 days.
In the case of contracts of investment, services or purchase of supplies, the average of the terms for the preparation and presentation of proposals is situated in 36 days in the case of the State and 30 days in that of the autonomies.
From the CEOE’s point of view, the extremely short deadlines have meant that it has not been possible to exhaust the aid lines. This is the case of the ‘Connected Industry 4.0 / Active financing’ initiative, launched in August by the General Secretariat for Industry and in which only 8 days were granted for the submission of applications. “This has meant that the percentage of execution has been only 10.4%”, just 9.9 million out of a total of 95 million assigned to this help line, according to CEOE.
Information and search engines
They are relatively short terms that force companies to be very vigilant of the Public Sector Contracting Platform, the Ministry of Finance, the Official State Gazetteor (BOE), of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and of the regional and local bulletins if they do not want to miss out on opportunities derived from aid and projects linked to European funds.
The Government has also revamped the website of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan with a search engine which, as of January 21, reported 495 of them at the three levels of the administration (State, autonomous communities and municipalities), both for tenders and subsidies. Of these 495, there are 306 calls that are already closed and another 189 that are open or about to open. The President of the Government has recently announced that in the first half of this year more than 150 calls will be opened, for 17,000 million euros.
In addition, since the beginning of November, the Government publishes the ‘Weekly Newsletter of the Recovery Plan’ which is presented as a compilation of the tenders, grants and subsidies published in the BOE and in the official bulletins of the autonomous communities, with their corresponding links.
However, there are arguments that cast doubt on the exhaustiveness of this information. Thus, for example, in the Moncloa call search engine, the aim is to track those of the Generalitat de Catalunya, six calls appear, for subsidies, for a total of 214.7 million compared to the 16 that the Catalan administration exhibits, for 437 million .