The European funds are not reaching the real economy and this lethargy leads the Government to reduce the initially expected impact of this manna of money on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Executive’s economic area, led by Nadia Calviño, is already working on drawing up the macroeconomic table that will accompany the Stability Program 2022-2025 and that will be made public next April. And that is where, predictably, the reduction in the contribution of the mechanism will take place Next Generation EU.
Government sources advance that this review will take place. It must be remembered that the Government had projected an average impact of the Recovery Plan of 2 points in the 2021-2023 period and even estimated a contribution of 2.6 points to GDP in 2021. But everything points to the contribution finally will be very far from that level, at least in the first year of execution of the funds, given that the money from Brussels has not yet permeated the real economy, as perceived by companies and confirmed by analysts in their forecasts.
In its latest macroeconomic projections, the Bank of Spain estimated that the NGEU program would have an impact of just 0.3 points on GDP in 2021, which would rise to 1.6 points above the estimated growth rate of GDP in 2022. The agency made these forecasts in a context of a reduction in spending financed with EU funds in 2021, 2022 and 2023 and shifting its impact to 2024 “Given the scarcity, for the moment, of official data on the execution of these projects, the information on calls made, contained on the PRTR website, has been taken into account, together with the formulation of certain assumptions about the calendar of execution”, the supervisory body justified in its report.
Along with the resurgence of the pandemic and the global supply crisis, the delay in the economic effects of the Recovery Plan in relation to previous estimates is one of the main reasons why analysts are cutting their forecasts for Spain. The Fiscal Authority (AIReF) has done the same, after having raised its forecasts of non-execution of funds in 2021 from 20% to more than 60%, after verifying that, until August, hardly any final expenses had been executed (money that has really reached the companies) by 104 million euros of the almost 5,000 million committed to that date.
The Government has not published execution data again, although government sources assure that as of December 31, 2021, the General State Administration had authorized the expenditure of 91.4% of the 24,200 million euros budgeted for the year, while 86.7% had been committed and made payments for 45.5% (11,000 million). In addition, they affirm that more than 424 calls have been published for an amount of 13,000 million, of which 182 are still open and 242 have already been closed and therefore are in the process of being resolved. Of the latter, a total of 88 calls will be resolved in the coming days or weeks for an amount of 7,900 million.
The problem is that, despite the breakdown of these data, the Government does not provide figures on the volume of funds that have already reached the real economy. And the companies complain that the money does not arrive. According to a report prepared by the CEOE, in 2021 public administrations barely published 400 calls for subsidies and tenders for public contracts worth 9,300 million euros. That amount represents 48% of the European funds received by Spain in 2021 (19,000 million euros) and only 38% of the slightly more than 24,000 million incorporated by the Executive in the General State Budgets for 2021.
From the Executive, they assure that they are working with all the ministries and the autonomous communities so that the information control system, already established and operational, begins to be deployed. To do this, the Government is already training state and regional officials with the aim that throughout the next quarter this system is deployed and information on the amount of funds that move in the economy can be extracted in real time. When it is ready, the will of the Executive is to prepare regular and frequent reports, according to these sources.
In any case, it must be remembered that if the Government does not execute all the funds in one year, it does not lose the money, since a budget provision was established in which the remaining resources that remain to be executed pass to the following year. Thus, facing this first semester of 2022, the Executive has proposed that the deployment of European funds reach cruising speed, for which 170 calls for 17,000 million euros will be launched. But inevitably it will be forced to lower the contribution of the funds to GDP in 2021 and recalculate its forecasts for the entire period in the revision made in the Stability Program in April.