The government is set to approve urgent measures to ease the severe economic impact of the historic drought in the country, Spain’s Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera confirmed ahead of an extraordinary government meeting on Thursday.
The Council of Ministers will deal with and approve the extraordinary package in a special government session.
According to the government’s plan, the water supply must be ensured in all Spanish cities and for farmers in case adverse weather conditions persist this summer.
Reservoirs in Spain are currently at 49.6% of their capacity – a similar figure to the one recorded for the same period in 2022 but far below the 68.7% average over the past decade.
Since 1961, Spain has experienced up to seven major water shortages, the Spanish weather service AEMET reported.
Recently, however, extreme drought has reached levels not seen since the 1960s. This matter was brought to the fore at the EU level through the so-called “Doñana crisis” and is now at the heart of the political campaign in the run-up to the regional elections at the end of the month.
In her announcement, Ribera (PSOE) recalled last year’s measures to secure the water supply in cities and help farmers, stressing the importance of the third cycle of hydrological plans designed to deal with the extreme drought in Spain.
It is necessary to anticipate actions and understand the impact seasonal weather forecasts may have on water availability in the coming months, said Ribera, noting the importance of being prepared in case early action is needed.
Climate change and elections: a dangerous “mix”
But according to the centre-right Partido Popular (PP/EPP), the government’s extraordinary meeting is “politically motivated.”
According to the PP, the government must put aside “electioneering and campaign strategy” with its general coordinator, Elías Bendodo, demanding that the new measures be agreed with the affected regions and not “dictated” by Madrid.
“We are seeing this week that every announcement (Prime Minister Pedro) Sánchez makes is linked to trying to win a handful of votes and not to solving the problems of the Spanish people, and drought is indeed one of the priority issues of the national government and the regions”, he said.
Spain will hold regional and municipal elections on 28 May, with a general election expected to take place in December, during the country’s final month at the helm of the EU Council presidency.
(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)
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