The Provincial Councils and the CEOE of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel join forces to create an Innovation HUB

The presidents of the provincial councils and business organizations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel are committed to the digital and sustainable transformation of the three provinces

Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, November 5, 2021. The Provincial Councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel and CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE Teruel maintain close collaboration in the field of depopulation, and are currently aligned on the importance of promote the three provinces, as territories in which to implement an Innovation Hub that helps existing companies and also facilitates the arrival of others, as well as startups.

This objective is channeled in the 5 For Rural Project, in which the three business organizations have been working for some time on its development, concretion and in the search for the necessary support to be able to implement it in a coordinated and successful manner in the 3 territories. This project fully fits into the objectives of the Recovery Plan, especially with regard to “leaving no territory behind”, and more specifically in the lines of work of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge ( MITECO).

The commitment to the Innovation HUB has been the main issue addressed in a face-to-face meeting in which, together with the president of the Soria Provincial Council and the president of FOES, the presidents of the Cuenca and Teruel Provincial Councils, and representatives of the CEOEs of these provinces. The president of FOES, Santiago Aparicio, added that “an innovation HUB for sparsely populated provinces is a tool that helps provide answers to the challenges and problems that these areas face, promote a resilient ecosystem and generate impact positive economic and social development in the territory”.

A year of work on the design of the ‘5 for rural’

A year ago, in November 2020, the business confederations of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel presented the ‘5 for rural’ project to the national organization of CEOE, which included it in one of the 21 Strategic Initiatives of the country for the recovery and transformation of the Spanish economy that he presented to the Government of Spain.

With the inclusion of the project in the portfolio of initiatives presented to the Executive, the road has only just begun. In the first half of 2021, the three business organizations have transferred the content of the project to different institutions, so that they can learn about it and even enrich it with their contributions. In fact, the presidents of the three provincial councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel were the first to know about it and decided to support it and collaborate with the CEOE for its development. In addition, the representatives of the autonomous communities of Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y León and Aragón, the Ministries of Science and Innovation, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, as well as the Secretariat of the Demographic Challenge.

FOES, CEOE Teruel, CEOE CEPYME Cuenca and the Provincial Councils aspire for the three provinces to become smart territories, to enable the generation of new business and employment opportunities for young people, as well as for new settlers and in general to boost economic activity of the three provinces.

New step on the way to the application of operating aid for companies in Cuenca, Soria and Teruel

Positive assessment of the CEOE of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, although this is not necessarily synonymous with putting into practice

Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, October 15, 2021. CEOE CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE-CEPYME Teruel make a positive assessment that in the one hundred and fifteenth additional provision of the project of the General State Budgets (PGE) for the next year 2022 include regional state aid for the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel within the framework established at European level. The PGE project states that the Government “will establish the ways to make the most of the existing aid possibilities for areas with a very low population density, specifically those with a population density of less than 12.5 inhabitants per square kilometer ”.

This step follows the path started by the lobby of the companies in Cuenca, Soria and Teruel with the presentation in 2019 of the report on ‘A differentiated taxation for the progress of depopulated territories in Spain’ where the cost and the return to the public coffers that the different fiscal measures available could entail, as well as their contribution in correcting the territorial imbalances caused by depopulation.

In September 2020, another fundamental step was taken with the presentation by business organizations and the Autonomous Communities of the allegations to the draft of the State Aid Guidelines planned for the period 2022-2027. In the case of the three CEOE, its content was based on presenting a demographic diagnosis of the three provinces, followed by an analysis of its economic structure and business fabric. This evidenced, on the one hand, the existing demographic similarities with the Scandinavian regions and, on the other, that the application of these aids would not affect the principles of competition and free markets at a national or European level. The European Commission included these allegations in the final text of the Guidelines on state aid for regional purposes, recognizing the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel among the territories likely to benefit from aid intended for companies in order to compensate for the competitive disadvantages that causes depopulation.

Thanks to the joint effort developed by the SSPA Network and its respective Autonomous Communities, recognition has been achieved by the community authorities and now also by the Spanish ones. Although the businessmen remember that the fact that they have been included in the budgets is not synonymous with their being put into operation, and therefore it is necessary to continue working to make this possibility effective, and for this reason they will follow the steps in the negotiations of the budgets and they will request a new meeting with the political and technical leaders of the Ministry of Finance, since the details of their practical application remain to be specified in the shortest possible time and to urge their immediate implementation because they are essential to avoid progressive depopulation of these territories.

For the CEOE it is important that the formula chosen by the government to apply this aid is as effective as possible, for this reason it is necessary to apply the maximum percentage allowed by Europe, that is, 20%, in the formula for a reduction in labor costs .

The reduction of labor costs of companies is an instrument that has been applied by the Norwegian government since 1975, whose objective is to increase employment in the most socioeconomically vulnerable regions, improving their competitiveness and increasing their market share. This increase in competitiveness translates not only into the creation of more employment, but also of better employment with the increase in wages, thanks to its transposition to collective bargaining. The results of this policy can be seen reflected in the population growth of more than 5% in the regions considered “very sparsely populated” during the last decade.

The operating aid could have another form, for example, subsidies to reduce the current expenses of the companies, that is to say a positive benefit instead of the reduction of a burden (as would be the case of the Social Security bonus). After knowing the draft of the PGE we can say that the first cannot be the formula to apply, since if it were, it should have included the necessary item to pay for these subsidies to companies. In the case of the reduction of labor costs via a bonus to Social Security contributions, we understand that what is proposed is a lower income for the State, which is why there is no item in the PGE.

The CEOE of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel launch the “SSPA Network Platform for business talent”

The platform will serve as a meeting point for all those people who feel linked professionally or personally to the three provinces and who, for different reasons, have been developing their professional careers outside these areas.

Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, September 23, 2021. The CEOE-CEPYME Cuenca, FOES and CEOE-CEPYME Teruel are in the initial phase of developing a web platform to identify and geographically locate professionals from all fields and sectors , who feel linked to the three provinces.

The active population of the three provinces as a whole, in 2018, represented only 0.9% of the total of the national group. In the year 2020, this percentage drops to 0.87% of the total Spanish active population, when on the contrary the active population of the national group in that period has increased. The decrease in the data on the active population of these provinces is not the only element of concern, in fact, although Cuenca, Soria and Teruel are characterized by a high level of education compared to the national set, young people tend to be forced to study and work outside these territories. The consequent loss of human capital translates in turn into a loss of talent, even more so when the desired return rarely occurs.

With these data, the CEOEs have decided to promote the creation of this new tool: “SSPA Network Platform for business talent”, for which they have the collaboration of the Provincial Councils of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel.

Contracting for the design and development of the platform is open to companies associated with the three business associations that carry out their activity in the field of computer programming and web design. The award of the service, which will be carried out in the coming weeks, will allow the platform to be active before the end of this year.

The aspiration of the business organizations is that, thanks to this tool, it further strengthens the link between all those people related to the three provinces who reside and carry out their professional activity abroad, effectively favors the return of talent to the companies of the three territories and serve as a bridge to attract investment to the three provinces.

8 years of joint lobbying by the CEOE of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel

“5 times around the world is the path traveled in these eight years, in which the approval of operating aids has been achieved; We hope we don’t have to go around the world another 5 times for the aid to start up”.

Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, September 17, 2021. On September 18, 2013, FOES, CEOE CEPYME Cuenca and CEOE Teruel decided to join forces and work as a lobby to publicize the very serious problem of depopulation suffered by the three provinces, and propose solutions from, by and for the territory, at a time when the lack of population was not considered a central issue.

After 8 years, depopulation has become a priority issue on the European and national scene, and essential messages have permeated that were unthinkable years ago, among others the need for differentiated taxation. But, all this is not by chance, but is the result of joint, continuous and conscientious work, carried out with discretion, professionalism and seriousness.

It has not been an easy road, the CEOEs have worked tirelessly and with absolute transparency, making numerous resources available to the lobby, both financial and personal, to defend the interests of the provinces of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel, in the European sphere, national and regional. Public administrations and national and community private entities have positioned themselves as valid and recognized interlocutors before, proposing policies and concrete and applicable proposals, through 35 rigorous documents.

On the other hand, in order to promote the adoption of policies and the allocation of resources to deal with the problems in these areas, more than 500 meetings have been necessary with all the actors involved, informing and establishing strategic alliances. In addition, the confederations have done an important job of raising awareness and disseminating the most appropriate policies and strategies to society as a whole to reverse the processes of depopulation, aging and loss of economic activity that currently affect sparsely populated areas, participating in more than 300 conferences, 150 presentations and making around 200 trips, traveling almost 200,000 km.

5 times around the world in which the CEOEs have won small battles, which have made it possible for the European Commission to approve, in April of this year, that companies located in Cuenca, Soria and Teruel receive operating aid. Undoubtedly, this recognition will mark a before and after in the general economic situation of the three provinces, and in the particular situation of each of the companies that make up the productive fabric of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel. Although, the confederations warn that there is still a long way to go.

Next steps

The current is a vital moment for the 3 provinces, which is why the three business organizations continue to work on different fronts. As mentioned above, the CEOEs continue to work to ensure that the practical application of the operating aid is carried out in the shortest possible time. However, they report that so far they have not found the receptivity in the Spanish government that this important issue requires, and that they are concerned that the passivity they perceive will frustrate the arrival of these aids to companies in the three provinces.
In turn, the business confederations are moving forward to ensure that European funds reach the 3 provinces, with the ‘5 for Rural’ project, whose objective is for the areas affected by depopulation to become smart territories, generating new opportunities business and employment for the population of these areas, young people and new settlers, and promoting economic activity.

To finish, the CEOE will continue to press to change the focus of the legislation, which is usually done with urban centers in mind without thinking about the harmful consequences that its application entails in sparsely populated territories. The objective is to make effective the inclusion of the demographic impact in the regulations and legislation that are approved by the different governments, as is already the case with the environmental or gender impact. All new regulations and public tenders should be “ruralized”, taking into account the particularities of the territory and how these regulations affect less populated and rural territories.

“The operating grants are a unique opportunity for our provinces, and we are concerned that after all the effort made during these 8 years, after all that it has cost to obtain them, they will become another lost opportunity for our provinces. Because our lives depend on it, I take this opportunity to ask all the businessmen, all the institutions, and all the citizens of Cuenca, Soria and Teruel to act as loudspeakers, and call on our political representatives (the locals, the that we have close) to pressure the Government of Spain so that this aid is up and running in January 2022, because I really tell you, that our three provinces, our lives depend on it. Our territories are dying and we cannot wait any longer”, concludes the president of FOES, Santiago Aparicio.