On July 23, constitution of the Cortes on August 17 and formation of the new s the generals of December 20, 2015 -which forced to convene early on June 26, 2016, just six months and six days later-. In the midst of a calendar that gives little room for hesitation, Spain is at risk of receiving the green light from the European Commission to its addendum to the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, the document that updates the aforementioned plan and on which 7,700 million euros depend in non-refundable transfers and 84,000 loans under favorable conditions from NextGenerationEU funds.
The rush of the dates barely gives a margin of a month -month and a half in the best of cases- to the new Executive that leaves the polls to be able to approve any modification in the package of investment reforms and included in that text and agree on them with Brussels. The reason is that such changes in the direction of policies or reforms can only occur during the evaluation period (any changes that will occur after that cannot be significant.
Specifically, the European Commission has two months to evaluate the 192-page document that was sent to it on Wednesday (it would have until the end of August at the earliest), before the addendum goes to the European Council, which is made up of the twenty-seven heads of State or Government, the president of the Commission and the president of the Council himself, and that they have another additional month to be able to give it the go-ahead.
The text includes 18 new reforms, although less important than those that incorporated the initial plan and which, in fact, have already been approved in recent months through royal decrees, laws or other regulations. The reforms are limited to an environment such as energy and agri-food autonomy (both motivated by the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on European economies), as well as industrial, technological, digital autonomy or the reinforcement of productive capital.
Spain must guarantee sufficient administrative capacity
The Government chose to send the addendum to the community authorities this week and not exhaust, with this, the deadline of August 31 that it had for it. Had it done so, the new Executive would have been able to pronounce on the reforms and investments that the plan contemplates, but it would have had little room for manoeuvre. “It was not realistic to think that a new job could be started after the elections,” said the first vice president, Nadia Calviño, after the approval of the text in the Council of Ministers last Tuesday.
From Brussels, the message being sent is that Spain “should guarantee sufficient administrative capacity to ensure that the plan is applied on time”, and the country is also called upon to maintain momentum in the application of the entire package of reforms. The work that has been carried out to carry out the addendum speaks for itself. According to government sources, it has been a very intense negotiation, over many months, in which more than fifty meetings have taken place with officials from the European Commission and more than 750 documents have been exchanged.
Due to the energy crisis and the consequences of the war in Ukraine, some milestones and committed objectives have been adjusted, which is a possibility that countries such as Germany, Luxembourg, Estonia and Portugal, among others, have also opted for, taking advantage of the Article 21 of the Regulation of the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism. It was the way to adapt them to the new reality, to the increase in costs that the energy and inflation shocks have brought with them or to the increase in the cost of raw materials.
Calvino rules out an assessment of the addendum before 2 months
From the community capital, Calviño herself ruled out that the Government will be able to count on an assessment of the addendum by the European Commission “in less than two months.” The PP has asked Brussels to wait for the result of 23-J to rule on the matter. The ‘number two’ of the Executive recalled, in fact, that neither the evaluation of the Recovery Plan itself -which was sent to the Commission in April 2021- nor the requests for the three disbursements that Spain has received to date for a value of 37,000 million have been produced in less than two months. However, that period could be extended if necessary.
In a letter sent this Wednesday to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the candidates for the autonomous elections of the PP and the Treasury councilors of those communities in which they govern, ask the first vice president for a period of negotiation and criticize the “lack of negotiation” of the Government in the design of the addendum. In the letter, the popular ones assure that they want to avoid “assuming obligations that could lead to the repetition of mistakes that have already occurred in the past.”