HomeEuropeSpain’s far right helps Pedro Sánchez unlock EU coronavirus recovery funds

Spain’s far right helps Pedro Sánchez unlock EU coronavirus recovery funds

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez managed to secure parliamentary support for his plans to spend EU coronavirus recovery cash — thanks to the far right.

The Spanish parliament on Thursday voted in favor of a decree that will allow the government to use the €140 billion that Spain is due to receive from the EU Recovery Fund in the period 2021-2026, including by reforming some government operations.

Sánchez’s left-wing coalition government had appeared on course for defeat after the conservative Popular Party (PP), center-right Ciudadanos and the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) announced their intention to vote against.

However, in a surprise move, the far-right Vox said its 52 MPs would abstain in the vote, paving the way for a positive outcome for Sánchez.

Iván Espinosa de los Monteros, Vox’s parliamentary spokesman, told a debate in parliament that his party is in favor of the EU recovery funds, but accused the government of putting in place an “opaque mechanism” to spend the cash, which he said favors nepotism.

“Obviously we are in favor that those funds arrive to our companies,” he said, adding: “This opaque system is the shortest way to corruption, and we will remain vigilant.”

Espinosa added that “there has not been any negotiation” with the government in exchange for parliamentary support — a point Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo refused to comment on when asked to do so at a press conference on Thursday.

Instead, Calvo launched an attack on the PP, saying it was “literally unbelievable” that the main opposition party had decided to vote against. “We regret that in the worst moment of these 42 years of democracy, PP is not the opposition but the absolute destruction,” she said.

The PP argued the funds could be spent without a decree reforming the machinery of government. Calvo countered by saying the move was vital for Spain’s recovery and offered an olive branch, saying the government was open to introducing the decree as a bill in parliament, which would allow the opposition to put forward amendments.

ERC’s vote against was especially painful for the government, as it had relied on the Catalan party’s support in recent months. ERC’s parliamentary spokesman Gabriel Rufián said the decree gives too much say to business leaders over how the recovery funds should be spent, with insufficient decision-making power being granted to regional authorities. He argued that “all the money” would be handed to big companies listed on the Spanish stock market.

The vote took place on the same day that Spain’s Economy Minister Nadia Calviño was due to meet four EU commissioners in Brussels to continue negotiating Spain’s recovery plan.



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