The Government runs the risk of losing at least 5 billion of the Structural and Cohesion Funds for the slowness with which it is processed, according to sources of the European Commission consulted by this newspaper.
The problem is that Spain goes "particularly" slow in the presentation of a proposal for an association agreement for the funds of the period 2021-2027 and in the programs that you want them to be financed. According to the sources consulted, the alarms have been turned on to know that the tanquarters' ministry calendar is "the end of the third quarter of 2022" for the presentation of projects for these funds. This revealed it, according to this newspaper last Monday, the General Director of Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission, Marc Lemaître, who considered this rhythm "very unfortunately".
In the European Commission, they indicate that presenting projects at the end of September 2022 when they are eligible since January 2021 is not only a slower pace than other Member States, but leave the Lemaître team without time to evaluate them and give their approval before End of next year. And, as follows from the Community Regulation, if these projects are not approved before January 2023, "Spain would lose an annuity," recalcan. This implies about 5,000 million over the total of 36,245 million provided for Spain. These are the Structural Funds such as the FEDER or the Conventional European Social Fund and that are different from the new ones created by the pandemic called Next Generation.
Indeed, according to Article 23 of Regulation 1060, the Commission can not approve the programs without an assessment in which it "will take into account, in particular, the relevant country-specific recommendations, the relevant challenges identified in the Integrated National Energy Plan and climate and the principles established in the European Pillar of Social Rights, as well as the way they are addressed. " "The Commission shall adopt a decision through an act of execution by which the program is approved within five months from the date of the first presentation of the program by the Member State".
Lemaître showed comprehension in its appearance in the European Parliament on 15 with which many States are prioritizing Next Generation funds delaying the processing of structures and cohesion, but presented as an excess the calendar of the Spanish Government. Submitting projects so advanced The second year of the period leaves little margin to Brussels so that the different general directions of the Commission, including the environment, are pronounced on whether they are plans that deserve Community funding. "What is not going to happen is to approve plans presented at the last minute without evaluation time," the Community sources consulted.
The Ministry of Finance does not comment on the harsh statements of Lemaître, but they do not endanger the funds and ensure that the process with Brussels is already in negotiation, but they point out that it is a complex procedure in which the autonomous communities are involved. In fact, on October 1, Hacienda informed that it will distribute the bulk of these funds to the Autonomous Communities. In total, "the regional distribution is 34,693 million euros allocated to Spain for the objective of growth and employment of the ERDF and the European Social Fund Plus. That amount represents an increase of 13.2% in relation to the period 2014-2020 ". The European Commission ensures that they have asked agility to the Ministry of Finance that is its interlocutor in the funds and that modify their calendar so that they advance in parallel with the Association Agreement and the presentation of projects.
If Hacienda rectifies it is still on time to not lose a penny of the funds, but it is already offering bad image. What would be a loss is to lose an annuity after the battle that delivered the president of the government, Pedro Sánchez, in 2020 so that the EU will not only create a new instrument to combat the crisis, but increase the endowment of these traditional funds. The MEP of the PP, Isabel Benjumea, has already registered an official question to the European Commission itself and the President himself was done on Tuesday echo on Twitter.
Pablo Marriedo pointed out: "The Spanish government can not with two things at the same time: Brussels notifies that Sánchez risks 37,000 million." Married accompanies the tuit of him with the statements of the Lemaître in which he criticized that the government "can not do two things at the same time," in allusion to the imbalance between him for the next generation and his carelessness of the structures.Updated Date: 24 November 2021, 09:50