Spanish government

Sánchez advances €1bn in defence spending despite Unidas Podemos's opposition

Díaz criticises Robles and regrets the money will not be used to create jobs

2 min
The state-owned shipping company Navantia is one of the main Spanish companies in the defense sector. NAVANTIA

MadridPublic criticism from Unidas Podemos ministers such as Ione Belarra and Irene Montero against their coalition partners are common, but this time it was the Spanish government's second vice-president Yolanda Díaz. The cabinet will approve this Tuesday a €1bn credit extension from the contingency fund for the Ministry of Defence, a few days after Unidas Podemos made its refusal to increasing the military budget explicit. Although the Spanish government assures that all the ministries were made aware of the measure on Thursday, Díaz's allies point out that they did not know that it would be carried out immediately nor that it would be leaked to the media on Monday evening. "The manner in which things are done is very important and, in a matter of such sensitivity, it must be done with respect to government allies and Parliament", the Unidas Podemos leader lamented.

As advanced by El País, the Spanish government will accelerate the progressive increase in military spending it promised NATO, with the milestone of reaching 2% of GDP by 2029. Even so, it was Díaz herself who gave the details of what will be passed by the council of ministers: €367m in ordinary expenses corresponding to the second chapter of the Ministry of Defence's budget and €650m for the sixth chapter, to provide weaponry and individual protection equipment. "Unfortunately, [this money] has nothing to do with the workload of Navantia Ferrol or Navantia Cádiz," the second vice-president added.

Díaz noted that "unfortunately" the expenditure was not aimed at creating jobs in weapons companies. in what was a veiled attack on the minister of Defence, Margarita Robles. In statements in the morning, she had urged Belarra to "ask Diaz [who is from Ferrol] whether the F-110 frigates that are creating many jobs should stop being built in Ferrol." "These debates have to be carried out in a prudent and serene way, and never dealing with realities that are not true. To say that the €1bn is to increase the workload in Navantia is unfortunately not true", the Minister of Labour insisted.

Pressure for the budgets

Podemos secretary general Ione Belarra stated yesterday that Spain should not spend more money on weapons "due to the demands of a foreign power", in reference to the United States. Instead, Podemos demands a price cap on fuel, a €10bn fund for health and education, a tax on large fortunes, a prohibition on cutting off the vulnerable from electricity and gas supplies, and updating salaries and pensions in accordance with inflation. In addition, the party wants to promote a family law that extends paternity and maternity leaves to six months, a child-rearing benefit of €100 per child and seven days' paid leave a year to take care of family.

United Podemos, which has already announced that it will vote against the increase in the number of U.S. destroyers deployed at Rota military base, warns that increases in Defence spending may be to the detriment of social policies such as these, although Sánchez insisted in an interview with El País on Sunday that this would not be the case. In fact, the Spanish president's commitment to increase military spending predated last week's NATO summit in Madrid. In the plan that the Spanish government sent to Brussels at the end of last April, the executive already planned to raise the defence budget by two tenths of GDP by 2023.