The European Commission has warned that not complying with the fundamental reforms of a recovery plan, such as the pension reform in the case of Spain, “will cost a lot”, while in Madrid the government has continued to defend the rapid implementation of the plan before the delegation of MEPs.
“Not fulfilling a fundamental reform of a (recovery) plan will cost a lot, as it should”, EU sources have assured when asked in particular about the pension reform in Spain, whose completion was promised for the end of 2023 and is already almost two months late.
The EU executive published a document on Tuesday detailing the methodology it will use to approve partial payments to Member States when it considers that some of the commitments that a disbursement envisages have not been fully met.
In this case, the amount to be disbursed would be reduced for each non-compliance by an amount equal to the division of all the funds allocated per country by the total number of milestones and objectives of the plan, which in the case of Spain is 69.5 billion by 415 milestones.
However, this penalty could be multiplied by five for those commitments “related to the entry into force of a reform or the final step for the implementation of a non-legislative reform”.
The Minister for Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, was in Brussels on Monday, where he said the government is very close to finalising the reform on which Spain’s next tranche of the €10 billion recovery fund depends, a payment that has not yet been requested.
This Tuesday afternoon in Madrid, Escrivá met with members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, who are visiting Spain this week to supervise the management of European funds, after the Finance Minister, María Jesús Montero, had done so earlier in the morning.
MONTERO DEFENDS THE HIGH LEVEL OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FUNDS
Montero explained that Spain, as the country most advanced in the execution of the funds, has already reached 75% of recognised obligations of all the resources budgeted for 2021 and 2022, and stressed that the deployment of these resources has been characterised by joint management with the autonomous communities and town councils.
During the press conference following the Council of Ministers, he said that he has the impression that the MEPs are “surprised” by the instruments put in place by the Spanish Government to improve the implementation and control of European funds, which strengthen the systems of auditing, control and fraud prevention and which allow conflicts of interest to be anticipated.
One of these is the comprehensive system for monitoring and managing milestones and objectives (CoFFEE) and the other is the system for detecting conflicts of interest ex ante through data mining (Minerva), two instruments that are proof of the internal control with which funds are managed and which are also complemented by the training of more than 2,200 public employees who work with European funds.
ATA COMPLAINS THAT FUNDS ARE NOT REACHING SMES AND THE SELF-EMPLOYED
The president of ATA and vice-president of the CEOE, Lorenzo Amor, has criticised the fact that European funds are not reaching the business fabric, especially in the case of SMEs and the self-employed.
“The self-employed are not receiving the funds. Of the more than 3,300,000 self-employed, barely 5 out of every 100 have applied for the funds, they do not reach 170,000 self-employed and we must reach at least 1 million. Our objective is to improve and we have to do it now,” said ATA vice-president Celia Ferrero, after meeting with the delegation of MEPs.
As an example, she said that the digital kit aid has only benefited 70,000 self-employed workers.