Depopulated Spain puts pressure on the Treasury for the new financing model

  • Eight regional presidents (five from the PSOE and two from the PP) are cited to approve a common text and reiterate their demands now that the debate is open

  • It is intended to separate elements that generate conflict and it seeks to prevent it from being viewed as a “front” against the Government

It had been originally scheduled for November 2, but was ultimately postponed to this Tuesday. This November 23, at 10 am and in the Royal Hall of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos de Santiago de Compostela, the third summit of regional presidents of depopulated Spain. The Spain that suffers from dispersion and aging and that calls for a financing system that takes into account the cost of the actual provision of the service, not just the money per inhabitant. A forum in which eight communities participate (five of them led by the PSOE and two by the PP) and that reaches the gates of the Ministry of Finance presenting the main pillar of the new model, that of adjusted population. The Government had promised to have it designed this month but now argues that it could take a little longer due to the enormous differences that separate the communities, divided into two basic blocks: the interior and more rural Spain compared to the more population-saturated Spain and that is considered underfunded. Catalonia demands a bilateral negotiation and Madrid he is on the sidelines of the discussion for now and does not align with any group.

The head of the Xunta, the popular Alberto Núñez Feijóo, acts as host of the event, which is joined by his party partner Alfonso Fernández Mañueco (Castilla y León) and the socialist presidents of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page ; Aragon, Javier Lambán; Asturias, Adrián Barbón; La Rioja, Concha Andreu, and Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara. The latter joins the bloc at this 2021 summit, like Miguel Ángel Revilla, president of Cantabria and the regionalist PRC, who co-governs the community with the Socialists. The eight autonomies, remember, represent 70% of the territory, although they do not reach half the population.

The eight barons intend to leave this Tuesday’s meeting with an institutional statement unanimous joint, far from “fronts & rdquor ;, sources from various governments consulted by this newspaper coincide. The general principles are “clear& rdquor ;, because they are the same people who inspired the first summit, in February 2018 in León (in which Asturias, Galicia, Castilla y León and Aragón participated, a quote preceded by a match between the first three in December 2017), and the second, in September of that year in Zaragoza (to which Castilla-La Mancha and La Rioja have already joined). That is, that the new regional financing model, which replaces the current one, born in 2009 and expired since 2014, takes into account that the real cost of services such as health or education is higher in very large and sparsely populated territories, demographically aged and with orographic difficulties, than others with much more population articulated in large urban centers. That “effective and real cost& rdquor; It is the one that, in the opinion of the eight presidents, must be the main criterion that must prevail when reforming the model, and “not only, nor mainly, that of the population & rdquor ;.

The main demand is that the new model takes into account the “real and effective” cost of the provision of the welfare state, and not only the population

This is the great difference with respect to the bloc led by the socialist Ximo Puig (Valencian Community) and the popular Juanma Moreno (Andalusia), who they met in September in Seville also for put pressure in front of the Treasury. Both share diagnosis and demands, just like Murcia (Fernando López Miras, PP). Not too far from three o’clock, although with specific problems, is the Balearic Islands (Francina Armengol, PSOE).

Spending not on embassies

The eight communities that meet in Santiago this Tuesday also recall that all autonomies —And not only the most populous— suffer from a financing deficit, because they provide the essential services of the welfare state (health and education eat up most of the expenditure) and these have a greater demand from citizens, which means higher financial outlay. They point out that if the financial sufficiency of the welfare state is to be guaranteed, the communities must represent “more than 28% of total public spending“What do they suppose now, and that effort” must be made by the State. “The presidents of these eight regions emphasize that they must provide” in conditions of reasonable equality the great essential public services “, so the financing model must address that cost of the welfare state, and no, they point from one of the socialist governments, the impact of the creation of the “embassies or regional police, whose party must remain outside the general financing system. “An apostille that, however, will probably remain outside the common text precisely so as not to fuel the confrontation with other territories.

“It is not about inventing anything”, agrees a socialist baron, but about “making proposals from communities that share a diagnosis”

The text was still being outlined in these last hours, and for that reason it was not clear that more short-term demands would be introduced directed at the Government as a new covid fund —Hacienda refuses because it understands that it has already reserved enough funds for health or education through of the General State Budgets for 2022, which this week will finish its process in Congress— or wolf protection. But the intention is remove all elements that are a source of conflict. “It is not the forum to deal with these issues. We cannot open melons that lead us to disagree – they indicate from the team of a socialist president -. We are here to address a structural issue such as regional financing, with a long look at the next 10 years. ”

“It is not about inventing anything,” says another baron of the PSOE, “it is about putting forward proposals from communities that share a diagnosis, and this forum was born to address depopulation. “” If there is any element that distorts, it will be removed. We do not want to feed the frontage or the front of some communities against others, that is ruled out “, abound from a third community led by the PSOE.” The exchange of documents by the cabinets continues, there are proposals but what is not yet closed it will include the final declaration “, they maintain at the same time in the surroundings of the Cantabrian president.

The meeting is expected short, of approximately two hours, because, as several leaders consulted recall, the conclusions are well worked out and have not changed significantly since the 2018 appointment. It does seek to “specify more issues such as dispersion, aging or the maintenance of dependency” , and “to emphasize the defense of the State of the autonomies and the State of the well-being”, but little else. “National policy has highlighted the demographic challenge and depopulation as challenges to be addressed, and now we must be consistent: that this leap more qualitative than quantitative is reflected in the new system “, they explain from Castilla-La Mancha.

No partisan stances

It is to say that we are here, it has no more“, a socialist baron glossed, who insists that he does not want to fuel the conflict with the Treasury. Minister María Jesús Montero had shown her reservations about the Santiago summit, warning her colleagues that Feijóo was really pursuing a” front ” against the Executive of Pedro Sánchez, but their reluctance was mitigated. Also because the presidents of Asturias, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and La Rioja signed that they would not tolerate any maneuver against the Government. Montero confirmed, in the meeting with the Socialist leaders in Ferraz on November 5, that it would be impossible for the party to speak with a single voice: each would prioritize the defense of the interests of their territory in the financing debate, although they do share a minimal position. of the PP, Genoa has not gathered his barons to wield some basic lines.

Some socialist territories believe that building bridges with the PP in an institutional forum can facilitate the path of agreement, although the internal mess in the party hinders it.

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The next step will be the presentation of the proposal for adjusted population by the Treasury. In principle, in this month of November. The Treasury, for now, wants to close the Budget folder – this Thursday the plenary session of Congress will finish voting on the opinion, which will already go to the Senate – although it warns that the environment is not yet conducive to rapprochement, for the clash between communities and the uncooperative attitude of the PP.

Some of the socialist leaders who attend the Santiago summit believe that a meeting like this, with governments of different colors, it can help to advance towards an agreement, by overcoming ideological borders. But certainties do not exist. “The model can only be reformed with an agreement between the PSOE and the PP,” recalls a socialist president, “and I don’t see Pablo Casado giving Pedro that trick, giving oxygen to the Government, and even less with the internal situation he has.” And it is that the war within the conservative formation, between the leadership of Genoa and Isabel Díaz Ayuso, is total and without any signs of a short-term solution. Battle that, as they recognize in the dome, stops the action of the party.

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