It was an “intense day”, summed up the president of the Xunta, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who yesterday traveled to Brussels. Alberto Núñez Feijóo held four meetings with European officials to address “the issues that interest Galicia”. He also took time to present the Xacobeo in the European Union and encourage visitors to visit the Community in the remainder of this year and next 2022. Feijóo left the European capital satisfied to have received the “congratulations” of Brussels for the degree of implementation of the European cohesion funds.
The regional president began his agenda at 09:00 with an appointment with the director general of Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission, Marc Lemaître, responsible for European funds.
“The funds more than ever have a significant impact on the post-Covid stage,” Feijóo reflected in statements to the media at the end of the day. The regional president stressed that Galicia has already executed 100% of the money sent by Europe to boost growth in areas with gross national income below 90% of EU income. What’s more, He stressed that 50% of the money has already reached its recipients. “The reception with the general director of funds has been very good and he has congratulated us expressly for the level of execution of funds that Galicia has,” explained the Galician president. Galicia, he recalled, will receive another 3,000 million euros for the next period. During the meeting, other types of European aid programs were also addressed. On the one hand, the Next Generation funds launched to try to get the Old Continent out of the economic crisis that the coronavirus pandemic has brought. On the other, specific funds for the energy transition to help areas with an economy linked to polluting fuels, such as coal, to move towards renewable sources. Feijóo promised in Brussels to present the next strategic plan for the Galician economy 2021-2030 in the first quarter of the year. The document will already include the funds that the Community will receive from the European Union.
At 3:00 p.m., the Galician president had his second appointment with the members of the European Commission. At the meeting with the Vice President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka SuicaFeijóo explained the policies implemented by the Xunta in recent years to try to stop the bleeding of population loss that the Old Continent is facing. “We have told him about our projects of the demographic law, of the welcome card that grants to all babies born in Galicia between 1,200 and 2,400 euros depending on the income of the parents,” he explained. He also told Suica the latest measure approved by the Xunta in this matter, the free provision of both public and private nursery schools for children from 0 to 3 years old. Once again, Feijóo stressed that the person in charge of demographic policies congratulated Galicia for these initiatives. Regarding the welcome card, Feijóo asserted that the vice president agreed to “assess the possibility of extending it or raising the initiative to other member states.”
An hour later, at 4:00 p.m., the third meeting was with the Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit. “We transferred the Galician employment agenda to him to make the supply and demand for new jobs compatible with the stock of unemployed,” said Feijóo. Before leaving Brussels, the Galician president met with the EU representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell. “An old friend,” he defined. To the only Spanish commissioner wanted to update you on some of the main problems that Galicia has such as the industrial crisis or the future of the As Pontes region after it has been decided to close the thermal power plant. Feijóo said he finished the day with “satisfaction”, especially for the congratulations received by the management of European funds.
Covid traffic light
To questions from the media, the president also referred to the changes introduced by the central government on the so-called Covid traffic light. Feijóo was in favor of modifying it to better reflect the relationship between the level of infections and hospital admissions after the arrival of the vaccine against disease. “The vaccine has decreased income and therefore it seems to me in principle that the incidence of Covid must be increased because it does not produce the same income as without a vaccine,” he argued. “Adapting the incidence of Covid to a decrease in income and allowing a greater number of infections without the need for extreme precautions seems to me to be reasonable,” he insisted and later pointed out that since he had been in meetings all day, he did not know “exactly” the case and, therefore, could not assess the “proportionality” of the measure.