"Today we are stronger because we are more united." The Government is satisfied with the minimum agreement that he has reached with the regional presidents, who have met in person for the first time in full since 2012. However, Pedro Sánchez has had to give in on the drafting of the 'La Palma declaration' to reach unanimity. To the four axes of the agreement that Moncloa had outlined on the response to the war in Ukraine, the reception of refugees and the management of European funds, the Government has had to make an explicit commitment to "intensify" the tax reductions to face to the exorbitant increase in energy prices.
Sánchez blames Putin for inflation and the PP accuses him of using the war and the pandemic
The presidents of the PP They arrived with a clear demand to the appointment of La Palma: move to a super-reduced VAT on gas and electricity, which have grown unprecedentedly in recent weeks. The Andalusian Juanma Moreno Bonilla warned upon his arrival that they could not get up from the table until they achieved that commitment. After seven hours of meeting, the promise came generically in the document signed by all the regional presidents: "The measures that will be incorporated into the plan will develop and intensify those already announced so far, such as tax cuts to cushion the impact of prices of energy in the receipts paid by families and companies and others that may arise”.
Sánchez assured that this proposal would be analyzed in a sectoral conference. The Minister of Territorial Policy explained that this meeting will be held "imminently" next week. The Government insists that measures have already been taken to lower electricity prices, such as reducing VAT to 10% or suspending the tax on electricity production, which will amount to 12,000 million euros in one year. “Citizens do not understand that they are asked to turn down the heating [ha dicho Feijóo en referencia a las palabras de Josep Borrell] and do not lower taxes on gas, electricity and hydrocarbons”.
Behind closed doors, the Galician president and de facto leader of the PP has recognized that part of the proposal -the reduction of taxes on hydrocarbons- depends on an express authorization from the EU, for which he has proposed that they be extended until the end of year the measures put in place by the Government and are extended with the reduction of VAT to the super-reduced rate for electricity and gas. Isabel Díaz Ayuso has gone a step further by proposing a temporary suspension of taxes on energy, which her Andalusian colleague has recognized cannot be carried out. “Zero is practically impossible in terms of quantifying the State”, she has summed up. The Madrid president also raised dedicate the budget of the Ministry of Equality to "help families cope with rising prices". The other presidents of the PP stepped in to ensure that what expenses are "necessary" must be analyzed. "You cannot frivolize," replied the government spokeswoman.
The Socialists, who entrust the response to the position of the EU, try to put the emphasis on the position that the president will defend in the European Council on March 24 and 25 and that means that the twenty-seven approve delinking gas from electricity price. “As it is populist, they repeat it and repeat it”, acknowledges one of the socialist regional leaders on the VAT reduction, but recalls that “everything cannot be done” in reference to the reduction of taxes, on the one hand, and the claim of an extraordinary covid fund, on the other. In fact, they remember that the autonomies would have to assume 50% since VAT is distributed equally between the State and the communities. “What we have to do is change the model”, said the president of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page, about the energy pricing system. The Balearic Islands Francina Armengol has rejected the general lowering of taxes and has recalled that public services "are paid with them", although she has been in favor of lowering those of transport and the primary sector.
The PP regrets the lack of specificity
In any case, Sánchez has managed to get support "for the Government of Spain in its position before the next European Council that measures be adopted to achieve a reduction in energy prices" and that fundamentally goes through the decoupling of gas and electricity in prices. For this purpose, he will start a tour this week with some European colleagues to promote this initiative that in Moncloa they see feasible after the visit last weekend of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
Despite the "unity" that Moncloa highlights, the PP has lamented the vagueness of the proposals that the Government has taken to the Conference of Presidents. "Part of the agreements we have adopted is very unfinished," Moreno Bonilla summarized. "We have not been confirmed or told what the amount is," he said about the tax reduction that they have managed to wrest from the Government. Feijóo has lamented that "the Government has not come with a plan to welcome the refugees." "We do not know how many refugees are arriving," added Ayuso, who has criticized that it has not been articulated either where they arrive or where they go.
"It was essential to close ranks with the head of the central executive, Pedro Sánchez, in the field of foreign policy with the focus on the war in Ukraine, but we would have liked to be more ambitious. I think the economic situation requires adopting short-term measures It would be necessary to immediately apply the reduction in taxes on energy because there are families or companies that cannot take it any longer", said the president of Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco. "This is not an executive forum ", excuses a socialist president.
“They have not accepted our proposals but we will put our shoulders to the wheel”, Feijóo has settled at the press conference in which the Galician president has taken the opportunity to poke the Government for the absence of ministers from United We Can. "It has been a lack of respect for the king, the president of the Government and the regional presidents," said the Galician. The attendance of the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, who, like Pablo Iglesias, usually participates in these meetings, was planned, but she has stayed in Chile, where she attended the inauguration of Gabriel Boric. The Government spokeswoman wanted to settle the controversy by ensuring that the members of the Government who have a sectoral relationship with the issues that are going to be discussed attend the conferences of presidents.
On this occasion, in addition to Sánchez and her in her capacity as head of Territorial Policy, the vice presidents Nadia Calviño (Economy) and Teresa Ribera (Ecological Transition) and the ministers of the Presidency, Finance, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Health and Inclusion attended.
The sit-in of Aragonès to the king
The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, who has been quite aligned with the Executive on this occasion, decided to participate in the Conference of Presidents after it was agreed to address the crisis in Ukraine. Barcelona is home to one of the three refugee reception centers that Spain has planned. However, he avoided going out in the family photo presided over by Felipe VI. Once the king's Audi headed for the airport, the Catalan leader entered the building of the Archaeological Museum of the Llanos de Aridane. The president of Castilla-La Mancha took advantage of his appearance to poke Aragonés for that sit-in.