The vice president, who has sent a message of support and solidarity to the families of the deceased and those affected by this disease, has pointed out that this crisis has highlighted the importance of care staff, health workers and service workers essential that, in a discreet and often invisible way, have supported the scaffolding for the operation of the country.
During her appearance, Teresa Ribera has reviewed the social, economic and health measures implemented by the Government, and specifically those transversal and specific initiatives adopted by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO), They have pivoted on three main axes: protecting people, especially the most vulnerable groups, supporting the self-employed and the business community, and mitigating the impact on energy operators.
These measures have guaranteed the security of supply of the Spanish energy system at all times, reinforcing its condition of essential service during the state of alarm.
The social and economic shield put in place to mitigate the impact of the pandemic caused by COVID-19 will be accompanied by a recovery plan. In this sense, the vice president has defended the crucial role of the ecological transition in the European reconstruction process after the COVID-19 crisis and the importance of developing a courageous and ambitious European Reconstruction Plan, endowed with a fund that primarily finances investments that contribute to the ecological and digital transition and that prioritize efforts in those sectors that can generate more jobs and sustainable growth.
Special protection for consumers and companies
The initiatives launched by MITECO to alleviate this crisis have focused on protecting people, especially the most vulnerable groups. During the duration of the alarm state, the suspension of the supply of electricity, gas and water to natural persons in their habitual residence has been prohibited.
In addition, the right to receive the social bonus has been guaranteed to self-employed workers who have ceased their activity or have had their turnover reduced, in the month prior to the application, at least 75% compared to the previous semester and as a consequence of COVID-19. More than 7,000 professionals have applied for the social bonus under this assumption and more than 2,300 are already beneficiaries of it.
MITECO has automatically extended until September 15 the receipt of the social electricity bond to the beneficiaries who were due before that date. According to the ministry's estimates, 70,000 households benefit from this measure monthly.
Likewise, the maximum sales prices, before taxes, of the butane cylinder, established on January 14, 2020, have been maintained, which is estimated to benefit 5.5 million consumers. In addition, it has acted with the last resort tariff (TUR) for gas, which has only been allowed to review downward. There are an estimated 1.6 million potential beneficiaries of this measure.
A second package of measures, explained the vice president, has been aimed at supporting the self-employed and the business community. For this, the possibility of suspension and flexibility of electricity and natural gas contracts for freelancers and companies has been established while the state of alarm lasts. As of the end of April, more than 102,000 requests for supply contract changes had been registered.
The vice president also explained that the possibility has been enabled that, during the alarm period, the self-employed and SMEs may request the suspension of payment of bills for electricity, natural gas, manufactured gases and liquefied petroleum gases by pipeline, making said payment in the six months following the end of the alarm state.
Thirdly, Ribera has detailed the measures adopted to mitigate the impact on energy operators to prevent them from assuming greater treasury charges and to facilitate their role in applying protection measures to households, companies and the self-employed. Thus, electricity and natural gas traders have been exempted from facing the payment of tolls for access to the transmission and distribution networks associated with the self-employed who suspend their payments during the state of alarm. They have also been exempt from paying VAT, the Special Tax on Electricity and the Special Hydrocarbon Tax on invoices whose payment has been suspended. In addition, they can take advantage of the established guarantee line Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, of March 17, establishing urgent measures to face the impact of COVID-19; and to any other line of guarantees that are enabled for this specific purpose.
On the other hand, it has been allowed, exceptionally, until June 30, the sale of gasoline initially intended for the winter period. In this way, it is ensured that the fuel change occurs with the necessary guarantees.
In relation to the guarantee of supply and retail distribution of fuels and fuels in service stations and maritime poles during the state of alarm, it is ensured that at least one gas station remains open in all municipalities that have this type of establishment.
Regarding waste management during the health emergency, specific instructions have been issued in accordance with the recommendations on the management of household waste from households with isolated / quarantined persons by COVID-19, which were sent for transfer to the entities. local.
Regarding water, its supply is guaranteed by RDL 8/2020. Water supply and treatment activities have been considered essential in the regulations approved during this period.
The vice president recalled that MITECO maintains a telephone line and an email for citizen assistance to offer information on the different measures adopted by the Department. Both services process a measure of between 150 and 200 consultations per day, of which between 70% and 80% are related to some recently approved measure during the state of alarm in the context of the crisis caused by COVID-19.
Economic package and employment protection
Teresa Ribera recalled before the Ecological Transition Commission of the Congress that, since March 10, the Government has been approving different measures to guarantee public health and reinforcing the response capacity of the health system, including the recent creation of a non-reimbursable special fund of € 16 billion for the Autonomous Communities.
Every action in the health field has been accompanied, from the outset, by a package of economic and social measures to minimize the negative impact of the pandemic on employment, the productive fabric and households. Moratoriums of taxes and social contributions, mortgage moratoriums, facilities for the payment of leases, guarantee of basic supplies, lines of public guarantees. In total, the budgetary impact of the measures approved to date, including the health measures, amounts to almost 139,000 million euros.
In the field of employment, an exceptional regime of ERTEs has been put in place due to force majeure, an instrument of internal flexibility for companies that has made it possible to contain the fall in employment and which It will be extended until June 30. The use of this instrument has allowed covering more than three million workers and some 530,000 companies.
Gradual de-escalation and dialogue
The vice president also detailed in her appearance the work methodology followed in preparing the Plan for the Transition towards a New Normality, a process in which the best scientific and technical knowledge has been obtained. For this, experts in epidemiology, public health, debt, new technologies, philosophy, inequality, artificial intelligence, economics and international relations have been listened to, with scientific societies, researchers and advisers from public organizations or social and economic partners, with the committee of experts from the Center for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES) and relying on the criteria defined by the World Health Organization and on the road map of the European Union.
Ribera has highlighted the importance of institutional dialogue with the Autonomous Communities (CCAA) and local entities, key to coordinating essential competencies and services in the fight against the expansion of COVID-19. This bilateral work has allowed us to discuss case by case and territory by territory the strengths and weaknesses of each of the territories to move from phase, always taking into account the health indicators previously agreed with the Autonomous Communities.
In a similar sense, the vice president has valued in constant dialogue with the social agents to delve into issues such as occupational health and safety guides, flexibility mechanisms for adjusting productive capacity and protection instruments for workers and the population as a whole.
Despite the efforts made to minimize the impact of COVID-19, Ribera recalled that the magnitude of the socio-economic crisis derived from the pandemic forces us today to make an historic reconstruction effort. For this reason, the vice-president has highlighted the need for a "courageous and ambitious" European Plan for Reconstruction, which is up to the challenge we face "and that has as levers a green recovery and a just transition.
The Government of Spain has proposed the creation of a Recovery Fund of between 1 and 1.5 billion euros financed with perpetual EU debt to revive the European economy. A fund, Ribera has pointed out, which must prioritize investments that contribute to the ecological and digital transition, in line with the declaration of the European Council of March 26. "We cannot fall into the same mistakes made in the past, when we favored short-term shortcuts based on the fossil economy to face the economic crisis," he explained.
Ribera recalled the commitment of the President of the European Commission (EC), Ursula Von der Leyen, so that the "Green Deal" will be the lever of the Recovery Plan. The EC is already working to prioritize efforts in those sectors that can generate more employment and sustainable growth: the circular economy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, the rehabilitation of buildings or resilience to climate change.
Also digitization, the electrification of transport, the commitment to an intelligent, low-carbon and sustainable re-industrialization and the need for the rapid adaptation of our cities to facilitate public and non-motorized transport are some of the keys to this Green Pact that " We believe it is essential for its ability to generate employment and sustainable growth. "