Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez argued in the Lower House of Parliament this week that the state of emergency is allowing the curve of contagion of COVID-19 to be flattened, but the nation must maintain unity and responsibility while the National Vaccination Plan is being rolled out to continue saving lives, jobs and companies.
The Prime Minister appeared before the plenary session of the Lower House to take stock of the handling of the state of emergency, on the one hand, and to report on the extraordinary meeting of the European Council on 1 and 2 December, and of the ordinary meetings on 15 and 16 October and of 10 and 11 December, on the other.
As regards the state of emergency decreed on October 25 in response to the COVID-19 emergency, Pedro Sánchez stressed that this “fully constitutional” instrument has allowed the government and the regional governments, through co-governance and cooperation, to act in an effective manner. The State strategy to combat the second wave of the pandemic, he underlined, was based on common indicators, general and specific actions according to the situation in each region and on a joint weekly assessment by the Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System.
State of emergency works
Sánchez highlighted that the accumulated rate has been falling for five straight weeks and, despite the spike in the last few days, Spain is now one of the European countries with the lowest rates, which shows that “the state of emergency works”.
The country, he added, has tackled the worst health crisis ever, “getting some things right and others wrong, like all of Europe”, but the state of emergency has made it possible to flatten the curve in the first and second waves and, together with the State strategy pushed through by the government, “is saving lives, jobs and companies”.
Sánchez said he was “more convinced than ever” that Spain will overcome this “devastating crisis”, but warned that the rise in contagions over the last few days shows that “it is down to us alone not to open the door to the third wave over Christmas” and stressed that “we must not relax or drop our guard”. He also announced that if the Christmas Plan needs to be made tougher, the government will propose this together with the regional governments, and stated that the priority over Christmas must be “to look after ourselves so as to care for our families”.
National Vaccination Plan
Pedro Sánchez argued that, thanks to science, “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic is closer. “By the time the state of emergency is concluded, we will already have rolled out the common National Vaccination Plan throughout Spain for more than four months”. The European Medicines Agency, he explained, will approve the first of the vaccines on 21 December, and the second on 12 January, at which time global and fair access will commence to protect the whole country.
The government, stated the President of the Government, is working “at full throttle” to ensure that the vaccines will be available as soon as possible. Residents of care homes for the elderly and for those with disabilities, along with their healthcare and day-care workers will be vaccinated in the first phase, followed by other healthcare workers and non-institutionalised dependents. The Plan will progressively cover the rest of the population in an orderly manner.
Pedro Sánchez argued that it is justified to be hopeful and “reasonably confident”, but not to be triumphant, since we still have some “tough months” ahead, which require we maintain our respect for expert knowledge, social and institutional unity, personal responsibility, social discipline and a scent for victory.
Budget for recovery
Sánchez also underlined the importance of the National Budget to tackle the economic and social dimension of the pandemic. These public accounts, which are currently in their passage through the Upper House of Parliament, protect the most vulnerable groups and the productive fabric, and channel more than 25 billion euros under the European Recovery Fund, he remarked.
“This Budget does not decide the fate of the government but that of Spain”, said Pedro Sánchez, who added that the backing of 188 MPs for the draft Budget offers stability, confidence and a consensus to the social, modernising and transforming agenda of the government for this term of office.
The Spanish economy is facing difficulties and threats, he set out, but it has also shown its strengths – in the third quarter of the year, it grew by more than the figure forecast, the number of national insurance contributors went back over the 19-million threshold and the ten-year public debt has been placed, for the first time, with a negative interest rate.