Menstrual losses and the reduction of VAT on products for the period divide the Government

The rule that will reform the current Abortion Law and that the Ministry of Equality plans to approve in the Council of Ministers next Tuesday has once again unleashed friction within the Government. Some of the measures contained in the draft prepared by the department led by Irene Montero, several referring to menstrual health, are still being negotiated with the socialist part of the Executive, which has cooled the possibility that casualties due to painful rules, whose details are still under discussion, or the reduction of VAT on feminine hygiene products, which the Treasury opposes, end up being part of the text.

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Several socialist ministers have shown reluctance to this last question, designed for women who suffer disabling rules. The Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, José Luis Escrivá, on whom the recognition of sick leave depends, has nuanced this morning that the measure is still “under discussion” among the members of the Government. Escrivá has assured that the Executive works "internally" on the norm and that the objective is to "harmonize" two elements aimed at improving the situation of women: on the one hand, their social protection and, on the other, promoting their participation in the market work in better conditions.

The First Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, has gone a step further by ensuring that the Government "is not going to take any measure that stigmatizes women" in relation to menstrual losses. "Allow me to repeat it clearly, this Government believes in and is absolutely committed to gender equality and we will never adopt measures that could result in the stigmatization of women," Calviño reiterated.

The PSOE disagrees at the gates of approval

Also the Secretary of Equality of the PSOE, Andrea Fernández, has questioned the measure. “Women need adequate research, diagnosis and treatment to address the conditions associated with our reproductive system. Assuming that the rule itself requires special consideration can be unhelpful and detrimental, ”she has expressed through Twitter.

Women need adequate research, diagnosis and treatment to address the conditions associated with our reproductive system. Assuming that the rule itself requires special consideration can be both unhelpful and harmful.

— Andrea Fernandez. 🇪🇺 (@afernb) May 12, 2022

The vice president and head of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, has joined the exchange of statements on the measure, who has been in favor of the measure and had already received her approval in the negotiation of the draft: “I am completely in favor. I think that it stigmatizes not having enough sensitivity to understand that women and men are different and that the world of work is not neutral... And what we have to guarantee from the Administration is that the regulations do not have a gender impact”, she pointed out in response to Calviño's words.

The proposal to reform the abortion law has passed this Thursday by the Commission of Secretaries and Undersecretaries and is being negotiated against the clock within the Government. Sources from the socialist wing assure that they are working "very hard" so that it is ready for approval in the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

For their part, the representatives of the majority unions have referred to this issue along the same lines as United We Can. The general secretaries of the UGT and CCOO, Pepe Álvarez and Unai Sordo, consider the casualties a measure, a priori, "positive", although they have asked to specify it within the framework of social dialogue. This extreme is rejected, however, by the Ministry of Equality, considering that it is not an issue that employers and unions should address.

Both Álvarez and Sordo have spoken after the deputy secretary of the UGT, Cristina Antoñanzas, questioned the initiative by pointing out that they did not want to "stigmatize women again" and that the matter is "complex". The Secretary for Women of the CCOO, Carolina Vidal, for her part, has commented that "the occupational health of women is different" and, therefore, has seen well the possible measure for those whose "painful menstruation makes it difficult for them to go to the job".

Treasury refuses to reduce VAT

With regard to the elimination of VAT on products such as tampons and pads that appear in the Equality draft, sources from the Treasury are reluctant. They argue that it is "a law to extend rights" such as the reform of the Abortion Law "would not be the method to address a tax reduction", that the department led by María Jesús Montero is focused "on the fiscal response to the effects of the war in Ukraine and the increase in inflation” and that Spain has “a collection problem regarding VAT” and the measure, which would mean reducing the 10% tax, “distances it from European partners.”

However, in the programmatic agreement of the coalition, the commitment is that the VAT on feminine intimate hygiene products be lowered to 4%, which would only mean a decrease in collection of about 18 million euros, according to the calculations of Equality . It was also defended by all the partners during the processing of the past General State Budgets, although it was not finally included in the public accounts. The report of the experts for the tax reform, published in March, also endorsed this reduction. The PSOE did include it in the 2019 budgets after the budget agreement with United We Can. María Jesús Montero defended then that the impact of gender in the purchase of these essential products is evident, but those accounts declined.

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