The coronavirus pandemic has had an unexpected effect on the autonomous state: it has greased the cooperation and coordination bodies between the Government and the communities and has given them an unprecedented rhythm. The most conclusive proof of the intensity of collaboration between administrations to combat covid is the 169 sectoral conference meetings in 2020, more than triple the number of the previous year (49), in which the ministers meet with the regional councilors of their respective portfolios. Until then, the annual average was between 56 and 58.
The Interterritorial Council of the National Health System was by far the most active with 82 meetings. Between March and April, daily meetings were held, and since May they met at least once a week, according to a report from the Ministry of Territorial Policy, led by Isabel Rodríguez, which the Council of Ministers will analyze this Friday. The most dynamic year in the last four decades corresponded to 2012, with 84 meetings held. A figure shows the great change that the confinement has meant for the activity of the multilateral bodies of the territorial structure: in the entire period 2016-2020, 380 meetings were held, but almost half of them corresponded only to the last year.
“In 2020, regional cooperation has taken a firm step forward, consolidating co-governance as one of the most relevant decision-making mechanisms within the framework of a decentralized State and establishing the maturity of the autonomous State and its cooperation system based on the meetings at the highest level ”, says the document that EL PAÍS has had access to. “Although most of these events have taken place in a context of enormous exception and crisis, there is also no doubt that certain changes in mentality and procedure have reached a sufficient level of consolidation and demonstrated remarkable effectiveness. The intensity of cooperation activity during 2020 cannot be seen as an exception, but rather as a phenomenon that has come to stay ”, the more than 40-page report states.
After the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, the next most active bodies were the Education sector with eight meetings (one in 2019) and the Agriculture and Rural Development, also eight (three that year). Another example of the unprecedented reactivation of sectoral conferences, which in recent years had suffered a certain slowdown due to different circumstances, such as the long interim periods of the governments of Mariano Rajoy in 2016 and Pedro Sánchez in 2019, is the Tourism Sector Conference: if there were no meetings in 2016 and 2017 and a single session in 2018 and 2019, in 2020 it held five meetings. Same as the Domestic Trade sector, without calling in 2019.
The multiple crisis of the coronavirus (health, economic and social) was also decisive for the concentration in 2020 of 17 of the 24 conferences of presidents that have taken place since its inception in 2004 during the mandate of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. In addition, three new bodies were created: the Sectoral Conference for the 2030 Agenda, under the Ministry of Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda, which held two sessions in 2020 after its constitution in July; the Sectorial Conference of Demographic Challenge, of the Ministry of Ecological Transition, of the same month and also with two meetings; and the Sectorial Conference of the National System of Qualifications and Professional Training for Employment, dependent on the Ministry of Education, which was constituted at the end of the year with a meeting.
Faced with criticism from the opposition, which reproaches the Government for having left decisions such as the application of the covid passport to access leisure establishments in the autonomous communities and other restrictions based on the advance of the sixth wave, the Executive defends the current model and insists on vaccination to contain omicron, the latest variant of the coronavirus that has put the planet on alert.
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The Ministry of Territorial Policy will also bring to the Council of Ministers this Friday a report on the work of the Government Delegations, which in 2020 attended 2,299,742 citizen consultations. Most of the registered requests were related to Immigration, with 808,599 inquiries (38.25% of the total).
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.