Another 10,000 million euros. The 27 have approved this Tuesday the payment of the first tranche of European funds – after the pre-financing of 9,000 received in summer – for Spain. The Economic and Financial Committee, where the number two of the EU finance ministers meet, has ratified this Tuesday the endorsement of the European Commission on December 3 in just 18 days, when it had up to four weeks.
The European Commission guarantees the first 10,000 million of European funds for Spain
From here, it is comitology this Wednesday – a meeting of the European Commission with a committee made up of representatives of all the EU countries – and, then, the Community Executive can make the decision on the payment at the end of this week.
Now it remains to be seen if the money will arrive in 2021, as the Government anticipates, or if it will be delayed until well into January. Spain has been the first country to request the ordinary payment of recovery funds and also to receive the endorsement of the European Commission.
According to sources from the Executive, the Government has accelerated in the last quarter the allocation of European funds that it had budgeted for the year 2021.
In the accounts for this course, he included an item of around 24,200 million euros linked to the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Of this figure, at the end of last week it had already authorized items and projects that correspond to 78.6%, about 19,000 million euros (the total of European funds planned for 2021, adding the 9,000 million of pre-financing already delivered and the 10,000 expected “in the next few days”), according to sources from the Ministry of Finance.
The goal is for this figure to be as close to 100% as possible by the end of the year.
In files already started and, therefore, committed, there are about 17,300 million euros, 71.2% of what was budgeted. The recognized obligations, an accounting concept that roughly corresponds to the expense already executed, is 14,963 million euros. Finally, the autonomous communities have received 11,247 million euros from European funds.
Milestones and objectives
What the European Commission has evaluated for these 10,000 million, and ratified by the Economic and Financial Committee of the EU, is the fulfillment of 52 milestones, developed until mid-2021.
The milestones and objectives are described in a kind of contract –Operational arrangement–, operational provisions for the 27 that detail the mechanism for monitoring compliance with the milestones and objectives of the reforms. The Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, signed it on November 4; Gentiloni himself, number 9; and the Commission and the Government made it public on November 10.
Spain expected that there would be no problems for these 10,000 million that the Community Executive has approved. But the curves may come with what is to come, in particular the reform of the labor market and pensions. The first, still on social dialogue, must be published in the BOE before the end of the year. The second, before the summer of 2022.
In relation to the latter, Spain and Brussels have signed the extension of the calculation period of years for retirement. There were many tug of war in the Toledo Pact commission, in social dialogue and within the coalition government. To such an extent that the Government weighed until the last minute to send Brussels a pension reform proposal that expressly included an increase from 25 to 35 in the number of years of contributions to calculate the benefit to be collected upon reaching retirement. This is stated in the penultimate version of the records that the Executive has sent to the European Commission, to which elDiario.es had access and which was distributed in the last weeks of 2020. The final version that it sent to Brussels no longer included this precision, although it did maintain the intention of expanding the years of calculation.
In May, the text sent to the European Commission, component 30, which defined several questions of the pension reform, such as the time frame in which it intends to increase the contribution of the highest salaries progressively, during the next three decades, and the calculation period to calculate the pension is used verb “adequate” from 2023.
Component 30 of the European Recovery Plan was entitled ‘Long-term sustainability of the public pension system within the framework of the Toledo Pact’. “The pension reform is aimed at ensuring the financial sustainability of the system in the short, medium and long term, maintaining purchasing power, preserving its adequacy and sufficiency in protection against poverty, and guaranteeing intergenerational equity”, it states the document, which emphasizes the willingness of the reform to acquire consensus in social dialogue after reaching political agreement on the recommendations of the Toledo Pact.
A month later, in June, that verb “adequate” gives way to the verb “extend” in the documents.. Milestone 408, called “adequacy of the computation period for calculating the retirement pension”, is defined as “entry into force of the legislation relating to the adequacy of the computation period, extending the computation period for calculating the retirement pension “.
Well, in the contract known in November, the operational provisions for the evaluation of the milestones and goals to which Spain has committed for European funds, the same is said again.