The rule, key for Brussels to release 6,000 million of European funds, still has to pass the vote in plenary next Thursday
The juggling of the Government to carry out its initiatives was reflected this Thursday in a chaotic vote with an unusual result. The Labor, Inclusion, Social Security and Migration Commission in the Lower House approved this Thursday the opinion of the law that will regulate the fund for public promotion of employment pension plans in companies thanks to the abstention of Bildu and Vox. The PP, Cs, ERC and Compromís voted against, while the PNV and the PRC voted in favor along with PSOE and United We Can. The norm, one of the reforms committed to Brussels in exchange for European funds, thus managed to overcome an important obstacle before being submitted to the plenary session of the Lower House on the 9th. But the Executive cannot yet claim victory.
Nothing guarantees that Santiago Abascal’s party will maintain the position adopted this Thursday next week. The far-right formation, which has 52 deputies, justified its abstention on the grounds that none of its amendments had been accepted; a reason that could well have inclined him towards the vote against.
The decision not to hinder the processing taken by Bildu is, instead, the product of an agreement according to which the Government undertakes to include in a royal decree law for the extension of the measures of the anti-cris plan, announced on Wednesday by Pedro Sánchez, an increase 15% for all non-contributory, widow’s, orphan’s or disability pensions. This increase must be prolonged, in addition, until December 31. The measure will benefit 445,000 citizens.
The Basque secessionists – who already helped save the initiatives against the consequences of the war in Ukraine in April – are determined to play a utilitarian role, in clear competition with the PNV. And, in fact, their vote this Thursday implies a shift from the position they held in the debate on the entire law presented by Minister José Lus Escrivá. So, like ERC, Más País-Equo, the CUP and Compromís, they supported an amendment to return the BNG.
Its agreement with the Government also affects the very content of the regulation, which aims to promote employment pension plans within companies and create a public promotion fund for these savings instruments. According to the commitment that Bildu reported, “not a single euro” from Social Security will be allocated to the pension fund, something that United We Can or ERC also defended. “In this way – the formation of Otegi boasts – we have managed to disrupt the intention of the rights to use this law to introduce and extend private pension funds through benefits for those who can pay them”.
The negotiation of this rule, which has to be ready before June 30 in order not to compromise the payment of 6,000 million euros corresponding to the second half of the year by Brussels, has given the PSOE enormous headaches. And it’s not over yet. A week ago it was almost taken for granted that the Government was committed to moving it forward with the PP and Ciudadanos and until yesterday, in commission, United We Can flirted with getting off the hook, as it already did with the audiovisual law.
The Basque secessionists start a 15% rise in non-contributory pensions from the Executive for the remainder of the year
Esquerra anticipates that it will vote against the text of Minister Escrivá and the PP leaves an open door for negotiation
Finally, the popular and the liberals voted against the opinion, despite the fact that the Executive accepted proposals such as that companies can deduct 10% of their contribution to the employment plan for workers with a salary of less than 27,000 euros, a percentage that will go down as the salary increases. The PP spokesman, Tomás Cabezón, assured even so that the hand of his party “is still outstretched.” “Move and you can pull it off.”
United We Can opted for yes after guaranteeing, in the words of its spokesperson, Isabel Franco, that “the Social Security Fund will continue to have at least the same funding as it does today.” But that was not his only achievement. The PSOE also ended up supporting by mistake two amendments from the purples to unstop pensions and for contributions from companies to be listed. Realizing the skid, the socialist group tried to repeat the vote, but collided with the resounding refusal of the Congress lawyer. The lament in the ranks of the government party went through the microphones: “I’m going to go down in history for this!”, a female voice was heard. “Calm down,” calmed another more serene.
The slip can be corrected in plenary by presenting a particular vote, something that the PSOE has already announced that it will do. But it is an eloquent example of a hugely eventful session as a result of the rush. “It is not normal that once again such an important law is liquidated in a single commission session,” censored, among others, the ERC spokesman, Jordi Salvador. We are talking about a law of billions of euros and right now I have not been able to read the transactional (amendments) because I do not have them and, if they reach me, I will have to read them and vote on them in a moment.
Esquerra, who had shown a certain willingness to speak the previous week, finally opted for a resounding ‘no’, as has been customary since the outbreak of the ‘Pegasus case’. “We cannot give support for the forms, for the message and – Salvador concluded – for the law itself.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.