It does not comply with the rules on debt, the agreed structural effort is not made and in addition, the Government's primary net expenditure multiplies the maximum Brussels recommendation fourfold. Spain does not have a budget for 2020, but the draft sent to the European Commission last week, without changes in policy compared to the previous year, "seems not to be in line with the budget policy requirements set out in the Council recommendation of July 9 , as they point to a risk of significant deviation in 2020 and in the 2019-2020 period as a whole with respect to the recommended fiscal effort. "

The evaluation of community technicians was expected on Monday, but this Mars has been published. The language is different from years ago, less aggressive, more empathetic. On the one hand, he insists that he understands "nature depending on the Government" and therefore that "the calendar goes behind the usual." And on the other, because Spain is no longer above the 3% deficit, so both the rules and the pressure are different.

That said, the letter sent to Nadia Calviño expresses her concern. There are many years without Budgets and although the nominal objectives sent by his department are within the spoken, the structural effort does not: "recalculated the numbers through the common methodology accepted by all, the change in the structural balance points to an improvement of 0 , 1% of GDP, below the recommended structural adjustment of 0.65%, "says the letter.

Likewise, "the budget draft projects a nominal growth of the Government's primary expenditure of 3.8%, which exceeds the recommended 0.9%" and "the projections do not ensure compliance with the debt rule in 2020".

Therefore, Brussels "invites the Spanish authorities to send, as soon as it is sent to the Congress of Deputies, the draft for 2020".


The rules of the so-called European Semester stipulate that all Member States have to send their Budget Draft to Brussels for the following year before October 15. From there, the technical services of the Commission have a few days to review all the documents and if they find that any country shows clear symptoms of non-compliance, they must immediately notify the corresponding capital asking for explanations or a new draft. If there is no obvious risk of default, the general opinion on the accounts is made public in mid or late November.

Usually, when due to exceptional circumstances, such as elections or a sudden change of government, a country cannot submit a Budget on time, it receives a generic letter urging that the draft be sent as soon as possible and with warnings if there are alarming data. What happens here, however, is different, because Spain still maintains Cristóbal Montoro's latest budgets, and that is very atypical.

What removes pressure is that, since 2019, we are no longer within the corrective arm of the Stability and Growth Pact , since it closed last year below 3% after a decade of continuous violation of the maximum allowed targets. With Minister Calviño maintaining a deficit of 2% for this exercise, that there are deviations of some tenths on the planned or agreed, is not a matter of special concern.

What changes in the current situation is that not so much emphasis is placed on an exact nominal objective, but what is known as "structural effort", what is being asked of the country, and which is much more complicated in the current circumstances . Minister Calviño is a well-known detractor of how this structural effort is calculated, and she, as previously other ministers, also criticizes other calculation formulas used in Brussels, such as the out-put gap in general. But the rules are what they are.

Insufficient Documentation

Last year, on these same dates, the Commission already warned that the documentation sent from Madrid did not give "a complete picture of the planned measures", and regretted that and given "the limited information available", it "could not exclude the risk of some deviation from the required effort. "

In that brief, in a cordial tone and always appealing to a "constructive dialogue", the Commission argued that "it would be important that they provide them with all the necessary information on the various measures, in particular as regards the budgetary impact, to facilitate our evaluation ", because what was sent from Madrid was neither sufficient nor conclusive.

But in November, with the assessment of the draft that PSOE and Podemos negotiated, the stick arrived. "The draft submitted by Spain is at risk of breach of the Stability and Growth Pact in 2019. This is concluded based on the projection contained in the Fall 2018 Economic Forecasts, which point to a significant deviation from the adjustment path. budget required in the medium term and in the non-fulfillment of the debt reduction objective, "explained the text published after the approval of the College of Commissioners.

The last written communication on budgetary issues between both parties dates back to January, when Minister Calviño and the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, received a reminder from the Commission. In these months the conversations have been constant, and in recent weeks Calviño already explained to Pierre Moscovici and Valdis Dombrovskis, his interlocutors and friends, that there would be elections and therefore it was very complicated that there would be a Budget for this year. Or that it even made sense to send one whose execution could not go beyond a few weeks.

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