October 22, 2020

The Toledo Pact sets its sights on September to try to close the agreement on pension reform


While the political climate was clouding in other rooms of the Congress of Deputies, with the fights in the Plenary and differences in the Reconstruction Commission Due to the coronavirus crisis, the different political parties have been advancing with discretion in the parliamentary commission of the Toledo Pact, on the future of the public pension system. This “oasis” of understanding and collaboration in the Lower House, as the political parties themselves often refer, asked the Congress Table to continue its work in July, the month in which they have multiplied their meetings to complete the in-depth review of the draft. of recommendations that was about to be approved last year and that it was agreed to use this legislature as a basis. The commission’s intention was to finish reviewing the draft this week to focus its efforts on trying to reach an agreement on the return of parliamentary activity in September.

The Toledo Pact is reactivated this Monday with the challenge of reaching a quick consensus on pension reform

The Toledo Pact is reactivated this Monday with the challenge of reaching a quick consensus on pension reform

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In the Toledo Pact, people do not like to talk about times or deadlines, especially because of the repeated occasions when the agreement provisions have not been met. The recommendations on the future of pensions assigned by this commission as a task should have been updated, but in recent years there has been no consensus on this. In the last legislature the pact was brushed between the different groups, but in the end PP and Unidas Podemos were unmarked at the last moment, marked by the electoral advance announced by Pedro Sánchez.

Even so, sources from various parliamentary groups confirm to elDiario.es the constructive spirit that “all the groups, including Vox”, have had in the commission’s work in these weeks before the August break, with the intention of concluding before the holidays the in-depth study of the 21 recommendations of the Toledo Pact in order to focus in September on the search for consensus. At the head of the commission, this legislature was inaugurated by the former Socialist Minister of Labor, Magdalena Valerio, with a great desire for groups to achieve the pact and a figure that favors understanding between the parties, they explain from the Toledo Pact.

“We have enabled the month of July to continue working, in which we have had very intense days, many hours of work and things have been progressing relatively well,” says Meri Pita, spokesperson for Unidas Podemos in the Pact. This month’s sessions have been especially useful for political groups and deputies who have joined the Toledo Pact again, to explain in detail the recommendations contained in last year’s draft, as well as to update the data on pensions for groups to make their decisions.

The PP asks to clarify what Europe asks of us

“The idea is to retake the commission in September to work on the final text and on individual votes,” explains Tomás Cabezón, PP spokesman for the Toledo Pact, which highlights the will of the Popular Party to reach a consensus on pensions, “as Pablo Casado has stated”. In the PP they explain that they are not as “in a hurry” as other parliamentary groups to seal the agreement in September, but they do share the will to work so that the agreement goes ahead as soon as possible.

Of course, in the PP they claim that there is still one more appearance before closing the document, such as that of Minister José Luis Escrivá, and that “the Government give us clear information on what Europe is going to ask us in terms of pensions”, adds Tomás Cabezón. If this look at Europe was already a request from the PP prior to this crisis due to the pandemic, it has been reinforced with the European agreement for reconstruction reached in Brussels, which was reflected in a fund of 140,000 euros for Spain. Even if the conditions of the european fund do not refer to pensions or labor reform, some voices – especially on the right – insist that both matters may be affected by this funding that we will receive from the EU.

The parties that are part of the Government, and especially the PSOE, share the interest expressed by Minister Escrivá to close an agreement before the end of the year. The head of the Social Security portfolio published in recent weeks an article in the press claiming this pact “to modernize and ensure the future of a central pillar of our Welfare State”, but also as “a just tribute to this generation that fought so hard to get it started, “referring to the victims of COVID-19, which has primed itself with the older population. “I think that people want certainties and I don’t like to talk about deadlines, but it would be good to reach an agreement as soon as possible,” explains Mercè Perea, spokesperson for the PSOE in the Toledo Pact, which highlights that in this period of talks between the groups “There is a very good attunement, without major differences in the essentials, with the intention of coming up with some inclusive recommendations.”

Several deputies agree that it may “not be so complicated” to close a common text on pensions among all groups, agreeing on key issues such as the annual revaluation of pensions based on the CPI and the commitment to the separation of sources of security Social that prevents social contributions from weakening due to the payment of what is known as “improper expenses”, such as administrative expenses or bonuses for hiring for companies. In the same way, among the deputies it is taken for granted that there will be some private votes on the most conflictive issues, but that they do not excessively weaken the union around a broad text of recommendations.

One of the biggest doubts is why Vox, which had opposed the creation of the commission, will do in the past much criticized the Toledo Pact and in its latest program the general elections. maintained a commitment to a mixed system of semi-private pensions. At the moment, several sources indicate that the spokesman for the party led by Santiago Abascal has been documenting himself as the rest on the draft recommendations and with a quite constructive attitude, but the trajectory of the far-right party in the House is usually inclined to stand out. of agreements, even on issues of great consensus, such as the implementation of the minimum vital income against poverty.

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