The Government has not managed to approve in the Congress of Deputies this Wednesday the royal decree-law by which the unemployment benefit system in Spain was reformed, because Podemos – a regular partner of the Executive – has decided to vote against, something which will have many repercussions.

The main reason that Podemos has given for opposing supporting the unemployment benefit reform is that it implies a cut for workers over 52 years of age who, when the benefit is exhausted, begin to collect a subsidy. This argument is based on the fact that when in 2019 the first Government of Pedro Sánchez recovered this subsidy – which had been eliminated in the 2012 labor reform – it stipulated that those who received it would contribute 125% of the minimum contribution base.

This meant that, although they received a subsidy of about 480 euros, they contributed to Social Security as if they were earning 125% of the minimum contribution base, delimited in turn by the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI), that is, by 1,180, 5 euros (since the minimum base was 944.4 euros), something that would benefit them when they accessed their retirement pension.

The Government considers that this overpricing is no longer necessary, given that the SMI has risen a lot since 2019 (20%); They also believe that it discourages the unemployed from accessing employment, since a person who is contributing 1,180 euros could have few incentives to accept a job in which he or she will contribute less or the same; and they also consider that it is discriminatory with respect to workers who collect the SMI and contribute 100% (and not 125%) of the minimum base; Hence, they have proposed in their reform to progressively lower this overcharge from 125% to 100%.

Podemos understands that this represents a cut, even though contributing now for 100% of the minimum base means contributing for 1,260 euros per month (the level at which it will be in 2023 after the increases in the SMI), 80 euros more than which represented 125% of the price in 2019.

The first consequence is that the rest of the elements that make up the reform do not come into force either, so there will not be an immediate increase in subsidies like the one that was planned – from the 480 euros at which it now stands to 570 euros for the first six months, 540 for the next six and 480 for the rest of the period. Nor does it become a subsidy compatible with employment for 180 days, as contemplated by the norm, nor is the month of delay between the end of the benefit and the beginning of the subsidy eliminated, among other changes that do not come into force either. the moment.

Regarding the repercussions for the State, this reform was one of those that the Government had committed to with the European Commission in component 23 of the Recovery Plan and constituted one of the inevitable milestones that had to be met before requesting the next disbursement. of European funds, of 10,000 million euros, which Spain has requested late. Until the rule is approved, Brussels will not release the funds and our country will not receive the money.

Podemos has assured that if the Government eliminates this change from the reform, it will have its support in the next vote in Congress, but this modification was one of those that the Ministry of Economy had promoted and that has also been defended by the Ministry of Labor. , which will be a difficult to swallow for either department.

Furthermore, a new change in the reform must be communicated and agreed upon with the Commission, which has to give the green light to each of the approved reforms.

The Executive could try to have the support of Podemos in exchange for making some other concession in another area, since giving up and not approving the norm is not an option as it is linked to the disbursement of funds. If the Government were not able to carry it out, Brussels could penalize the country and approve only a partial disbursement of that tranche of 10,000 million, having approved only part of the committed milestones, but this is something that has never happened so far. and that Moncloa will want to avoid at all costs.

The design of this reform has caused many problems from the beginning, since both the Ministry of Labor of Yolanda Díaz and the Ministry of Economy, which until now was led by Nadia Calviño, have tried to lead its design with very contrasting approaches. After a tough fight between them, with accusations included, Díaz emerged as the winner by triumphing in most of her proposals, although she incorporated some of the ideas of Economy to ensure that the subsidy did not discourage the return to the labor market, such as the decreasing scale in the amounts.

After managing to overcome this great internal obstacle, President Pedro Sánchez has encountered a second blow in his shoe: that Podemos, with whom he governed in coalition in the previous legislature, has decided to boycott him.

Unai Sordo, general secretary of CCOO, said this morning that “an excess of infantilism and pretending to have their own profiles can be seen in political forces”, in what could be an allusion to Podemos for distancing itself from Sumar’s postulates. However, he later specified that he is against how the reform was designed, as it was not agreed upon in social dialogue, and he has opposed the change in the contribution of those over 52 years of age.

“What CCOO has proposed is that people who go from the subsidy for those over 52 years of age to a job, if the salary they are offered is less than the equivalent of contributing 125%, that they be guaranteed that the contribution “It will be 125% so that all parties win. It is a way out to avoid any disincentive to return to work, because people want to work,” he noted. This, however, would be discriminatory with respect to the rest of the workers who contribute 100% of the contribution base.

UGT has not yet commented on the matter, but the union warned in a joint statement with CCOO of “relevant deficiencies that should be corrected within the framework of social dialogue” when the royal decree-law was approved.