There is no joke that has as many second lives as European funds

No matter how many times Ursula von der Leyen praises the Spanish economy, the Spanish government or Pedro Sánchez – or all three at the same time -, there is a recurring theme that appears in many media outlets: those who doubt that Spain will receive the European funds that correspond to it due to the dramatic mistake of the government. Financial disaster is always imminent. Then nothing goes as planned, but that doesn’t matter. The countdown to the next title began with the same intention.

The scare was repeated last Friday afternoon, with a Bloomberg report under the headline: “Spain risks losing recovery funds after delaying commitments.” The concept of risk is relative when there is still time to meet these requirements. Still, there was room for some alarm.

The news served to confirm one of the arguments the PP has used repeatedly since the days of Pablo Casado: before most of the European funds started coming in, it was already warning that the government was not going to use them for the purpose they were intended for. created and threatened, both in Spain and in Brussels, to go to court and condemn him.

“Do we want to buy comics and video games with the help that community partners give us?” Casado said in October 2021 of government measures that had nothing to do with European funds.

Bloomberg’s news was quickly picked up by several Spanish media. As it turned out, very quickly. At El Independiente, they didn’t bother talking about the risks or the opportunities: “EU freezes European funds to Spain for breaching controls.” In a later review, the headline went on to say that the European Commission “threatens to freeze funds”. The same thing happened with the ABC article. The url reveals that the first headline said the commission was “freezing” and the changed headline became “Threat of Freezing”.

Also in a hurry was Isabel Diaz Ayuso, or the person responsible for managing her Twitter account, when she broke the ABC’s first headline about the decision to freeze the funds.

There was also a title change in El Mundo. The first was “Spain faces freezing of European funds”. Then it was changed to “Spain risks withdrawal of European funds”, which is like turning down the thermostat a few degrees.

What happened in the interim was that the European Commission’s spokesperson for economic and financial affairs took the unusual decision at nine o’clock at night to issue a series of tweets to deny the information. The Commission is not interested in intervening in a national political struggle, but in this case it wanted to clarify the basic facts.

“Any claim that the Commission has frozen funds under the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism for Spain is unfounded,” wrote Nuits Veerle. “Spain has satisfactorily completed all the stages and tasks related to all the taxes that have been requested so far.” There are times when government or ministry spokespersons sound somewhat ambiguous. Not in this case.

If there was any apparent discomfort on the part of the Commission, it would be unclear how Spain received the second tranche of funds worth 12,000 million euros on July 29. It has not yet requested the third tranche – which will happen in November – and by then it would be convenient for the government to introduce a system of auditing the use of the funds, as promised.

The spokesperson’s statement appeared to be blunt, and Spanish media had no more information than what Bloomberg provided. Not good enough for the ABC, who weren’t going to screw up a nice editor in this case. Its title is “Europe expresses no confidence in Spain”. What does the spokesperson of the commission know about what the commission is doing?

At this time, it is not enough to spread fakes. You must know how to maintain it when it is rejected in whole or in part. For this reason, Dias Ayuso has not deleted Friday’s tweet. It is like conceding an undeserved victory to his enemies. Its supporters, like the ABC, know that deep down they are right when they condemn some intolerable government behaviour.

The commission confirmed what it said on Friday. Spokesman Wehrle said that when Spain submits its third request for payment, “we will check whether the audit and control obligations, or additional obligations, have been met.” Same treatment as with other countries.

The People’s Party could not admit that things were not so bad this time when the right-wing press organized the party on this issue. Elias Bendodo answered some questions from journalists on Monday as if the commission’s spokesperson had said nothing. “Spain, unlike other countries, has not started any kind of external and independent control,” said the PP coordinator, on an issue that his party likes, but the commission has not mentioned for now.

Bendodo did not miss the opportunity to add another hint to the artificially fattening topic. “The Court of Auditors of the European Union said that Spain is the worst country in the enforcement of European funds,” he said. This is a September story that had a happy ending. It has nothing to do with the emergency funds received after the pandemic, but with the percentage of use of the Structural Funds, in which Spain was in the last position between 2014 and 2020.

These not-so-glorious statistics correspond to four years of Rajoy’s government and two and a half years of Pedro Sánchez’s tenure. It’s not just Sanchez’s responsibility, but you’d never know it listening to Bendodo.

The car of the title can’t stop and it would be hard to argue that they were true. There are many examples. The presence of characteristic content in Madrid schoolbooks, condemned by Díaz Ayuso, which the Education Inspectorate could not find anywhere. The chilling and Orwellian Ministry of Truth, which was only a ministerial order to set up a unit in Moncloa on foreign disinformation threats, to comply with Brussels’ request. The drafting of continuous amendments blamed Yolanda Díaz’s labor reform, which also existed under Rajoy, then without causing so much opposition.

“We are at the bottom of Europe in terms of economic growth,” Alberto Núñez Feijoo said on Sunday. According to the European Commission’s growth forecast for 2022, Spain ranks first in the EU with 4%. Germany will grow by 1.4%, France by 2.4% and Italy by 2.9%. There are a few countries in the 2021 data that did better than Spain, but they were not as dependent on tourism and were therefore less affected by Ómicron’s impact on the sector.

But Feijo speaks in the present tense, as if what he condemns is happening now. This is the point about misinformation. Always live in the present, falsified when necessary, and don’t hesitate to correct yourself when you discover that what you said was not true. At that point, you’re already thinking about the next thing you’re going to release. Facts are just small obstacles that cannot threaten your goals.

Source: El Diario





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