Pedro Sánchez has a long list of duties that the regional presidents have given him during his tenure. Some are even historical demands that the PP executives have already received and are now inherited by the new members of the Council of Ministers. Infrastructures and regional financing are the main tasks that the new Government will find on the table –especially the Minister of Territorial Policy and spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, and that of Transport, Urban Agenda and Mobility, Raquel Sánchez–, to which the management of European funds as an absolute priority. The Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan will be the theme on which the Conference of Presidents that Moncloa has convened in Salamanca on July 30 will pivot.
Sánchez uses the PSOE for the Government and opens a new stage in the party
The uncertainty about how European funds will be distributed has been a constant complaint by regional executives in recent times. The autonomies will correspond to about 50% of the 69,500 million that will arrive in Spain between 2021 and 2023 – a percentage that Sánchez transmitted to the regional leaders months ago – without them being very clear about what the system will be for a process that, According to the Canarian Ángel Víctor Torres, it requires “a great state pact.”
“I do not know what co-governance consists of, nor do I know what the objective, ordinary and judicious distribution of funds consists of,” Alberto Núñez Feijóo stated on July 5 during a conference organized by The Economist-. Co-governance in the order and in the distribution of these funds of course we ignore it for the moment. “Feijoó complained, for example, that the Ministry of Industry and Tourism is going to manage 12,000 million in a” centralized “way and assured that only Health has made distributions with “proven criteria.” The Galician president called for improvements in this regard.
Several communities have also urged the Treasury to convene the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council to prepare the issue of funds and also to transfer the deficit path and the spending ceiling to them to start working on the budgets. “The previous and subsequent work is even more important,” said the president of Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, in that same forum, emphasizing that the “rules of the game are fair and are committed to sustainability, digital transformation “, in addition to taking into account depopulation and interior Spain. The demographic challenge is shared by some communities, such as Asturias, and by Sánchez himself, who elevated him to the fourth vice presidency held by Teresa Ribera. “We need a true state policy,” says Adrián Barbón, who also trusts that European funds will serve to catapult young people.
The industrial transformation through European funds is a claim of the communities, including Asturias – which applauds that the Government took up its request that the European Union establish a border adjustment that protects production, especially steel, against the ” dirty steel “, as well as the increase in compensation for CO2 emission rights that contribute to helping companies – or Extremadura, which puts the emphasis especially on renewable energy, as well as Castilla-La Mancha.
Unexpected alliances for financing
The great workhorse of regional presidents is the renewal of the regional financing system, which has expired for seven years. The one that moves the most is the Valencian Ximo Puig, whose region is the most punished by the current system, according to the Government, which has led him to seal unexpected alliances with PP presidents, such as the Andalusian Juanma Moreno Bonilla. Both have been summoned to a summit in Seville next September to address the matter.
Puig is, within the PSOE, one of the main defenders of the federal state, together with the Balearic Francina Armengol. “Spain is much more than Madrid, power has to swing to the periphery,” said the socialist at the Cercle d’Economia. It is an analysis shared by the Valencian, who considers that it is necessary to “decentralize the State.” “Madrid is the vacuum cleaner of resources”, they point out from the Valencian Generalitat, whose president has proposed, for example, that the headquarters of the State Ports move to that community and leave the capital. His great demand, on the other hand, is that the Mediterranean Corridor, which is behind schedule, be accelerated.
Opening the melon of regional financing will trigger the war between communities because the discrepancies between them are notable. Despite the fact that the appointment of Isabel Rodríguez as Minister of Territorial Policy reconciles Emiliano García-Page with Sánchez, to a certain extent, Castilla-La Mancha warns: “It will have to be approached with the rules that are on the table.” The message is addressed to Moncloa so that there is no singular negotiation of the matter with Catalonia and it is done multilaterally.
Catalonia, the great territorial challenge
And it is that Catalonia is one of the great challenges that Sánchez has for the legislature and in the PSOE they recognize that it is in that negotiation in which his continuity in Moncloa will be played to a large extent. The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, received the new Government without special enthusiasm and warned that the important thing is not the “who” but the “what”. “What we hope is that the State-Generalitat bilateral commission scheduled for the end of this month of July can advance in what is the area of investments and sectoral conflicts that are open,” said Aragonès. One of the first things that the new Minister of Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodríguez, has done has been to set a date for the bilateral commission that Sánchez and Aragonès approved at their meeting in Moncloa: it will be August 2, before the summer break. In his debut as spokesperson, Rodríguez made a declaration of intent by proposing that Catalonia be spoken of in a positive sense, for example, as an industrial power with “ties” with other regions like his.
Aragonès also warned the Government to “organize as it wants”, but to put forward a “proposal for the resolution of the political conflict” in Catalonia in the same way that he will defend “amnesty and the exercise of self-determination.” The socialists flatly reject this approach and intend to advance on issues related to self-government and, above all, reduce the arguments for independence.
Isabel Díaz Ayuso made it clear in her meeting with Sánchez that her main concern is precisely Catalonia. “We are in the hands of those minorities who hate this great nation of free and equal citizens,” said the Madrid president in Moncloa. Regarding regional issues, it was limited to a handful, such as claiming pending investments for Cercanías, authorization for more centers to apply CAR-T therapy, a single EBAU for the entire country and funds to maintain low student ratios in the classrooms.
The conservative leader took the opportunity to show her disagreement with the fiscal harmonization that the Government is betting on, but that regional executives also claim, including some from the PP, who complain about the dumping prosecutor of the Community of Madrid, which competes unfairly with other territories.
In addition to Catalonia, the Basque Country has a special relevance for Sánchez since the PNV is one of the partners that gives him the most stability. For Iñigo Urkullu, the channeling of European funds is a priority, but the primary requirement is that he comply with the commitments reached in the various negotiations, especially in the investiture, mainly in matters of transfers and investments. The Basque nationalists are also pressing for the transfer of the management of the Minimum Vital Income, as agreed for October 2020 and which has not yet been executed. This transfer to Catalonia was also agreed with ERC and it has not been carried out.
The other fundamental pillar of the claims of the regional presidents is that of the infrastructures, a chapter in which the Government still has a task ahead: finalizing the train to Extremadura, complying with high-speed investments in Euskadi, improving connections from Castilla-La Mancha to the west and south, to finish the Pajares Bypass and connect by AVE Asturias and Madrid, “correct the deficiencies in the rail map” of Andalusia that mainly affect the provinces of Jaén and Huelva at the same time develops the AVE to Almería, these are some of a long list of demands that will accompany the new Executive on the road ahead until the 2023 elections.