13 July 2021
We interviewed the tax specialist Cristina García-Herrara, Director of Studies at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and expert in the EUROsocial cooperation programme
Cristina García-Herrera is a specialist in taxation and Director of Studies of the Institute for Tax Studies. In this interview she tells us about her experience as an expert on the programme regarding tax cooperation with Latin America EUROsociAL.
What has been the greatest achievement of your experience as an expert on the FIIAPP–EUROsociAL+ programme?
My greatest achievement in this project is having helped the Institute for Fiscal Studies to continue to be a key partner in the EUROsocial programme, assisting the IEF in its longstanding work in building stronger public finances in Latin American countries with the support and help of specialists and public employees in Spain.
What are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the role that the Spanish Ministry of Finance, and the Institute in particular, has played in the EUROsocial project over these years, due to the high degree of involvement of public-sector employees, the enthusiasm that exists about contributing to the improvement, the strengthening of public finances in Latin American countries and about a job well done by the entire team.
How has your assignment contributed to improving the lives of people and the planet?
I believe that through fiscal policy, the EUROsocial programme contributes from both a tax and budgetary perspective as a key element for the development of countries and the improvement of people’s living conditions. Changes in the structure of public income and expenditure have an impact on the distribution of households’ disposable income, on the securing of the fundamental right to equality, on the improvement of public services and ultimately on the achievement of a solid welfare state that provides a better life for all and, in particular, for the least fortunate.
What is the main value of the public aspect of this for you?
For me, the main value of the public aspect is the protection of general interests. In times of economic crisis, as is the case with the pandemic that we are still experiencing, the public response from countries has been solid. It has demonstrated the relevance of continuing to be committed to State intervention in the economy to correct market failures.
What have you learned from this experience?
I have learned a lot, both personally and professionally. I have been able to share and exchange ideas with officials and policy makers from a large number of countries. But, above all, I have learned the importance of peer collaboration. Assistance to Latin America is always a win-win, we receive more than we give, and that improves us, both professionally and personally.
29 June 2021
Orelvis Bormey, one of the businesspeople who took part in the 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange programme, tells us about his experience and the support he received from the programme
Why is it important for Cuba to strengthen its entrepreneurial capacities at this time?
Reinforcing entrepreneurial capacities in Cuba now means adapting. The economic-social model envisaged by the country is constantly shifting, along with the measures adopted to make the new forms of economic management more flexible. This requires enterprise, which is the same as creating, revolutionising, adding, changing and transforming. This is more important now than ever before, because of the need for sovereignty and economic independence.
How has the 2nd Cuba-EU Expertise Exchange Programme helped you?
The 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange Programme has allowed me to make a qualitative and quantitative leap forward. Sharing time, experiences and insights with the European teachers has given me a different perspective. It has allowed me to see situations and manage them with professional tools, rather than simply talking about problems or difficulties with decision-makers. The programme’s courses promote proactivity, constant responsibility for coordination, communication and process improvement as essential habits for managers.
What specific activities have you taken part in?
- European Diploma in Management Teaching, graduated on 12 February 2016
- Continuity Conference, May 2016.
- Continuity Conference, January 2018.
- Continuity Conference, April 2019.
- Foreign Trade Trainer Training Course, May 2021.
What benefits has working with this programme had for your business?
The programme continuously analyses case studies, practical training exercises that focus on the use of professional techniques and tools that have helped me manage our activities with flexibility, considering a multifactorial analysis for decision-making and always valuing its economic and social role for the stability and growth of the business.
Many situations have arisen, some expected, others much less so:
- There has been a shortage of essential raw materials, affecting production plans.
- Contracts have been terminated due to situations beyond the control of the parties.
- Increases in the prices of raw materials and inputs.
- Technology cannot be replaced due to import restrictions.
- Financial constraints on expanding production capacity or on guaranteeing the inventory levels required for a peak marketing period.
In general, we have always found a solution and I can assure you that the programme has had a significant impact. It has taught us how to manage scenarios when unforeseen events arise, what to do when there are limitations on implementing a programme of activities and ensuring that a system works effectively.
Is your product the first non-state product to be sold in Cuban airports? In your opinion, how important is this?
Maní BORMEY was added to the products on offer at “Abel Santamaría” International Airport in Villa Clara and later it was made available in other airports due to the popularity of the products. Its presence there is significant because it allows travellers to identify and buy a Cuban product that is as deeply rooted in our culture as tobacco and rum. This is why it is very important to praise it, to honour it, to ensure that our processing and presentation distinguishes us as a product for different occasions.
Do you think this type of experience is important for the foreign expansion of companies and in attracting investment from abroad? If so, why?
Training is essential for individual and national development, to see other cultures and business experiences that are summarised and analysed by experts and academics. Being professionally prepared for the foreign expansion of companies and investment from abroad means guaranteeing local and national development.
Do you plan to participate again in cooperation programmes such as the 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange Programme?
I’m looking forward to taking part. The teamwork achieved in BORMEY allows everyone to continue to improve their professional skills and develop the manufacture of peanut-based products, providing new perspectives for research and innovation.
Would you recommend working with cooperation programmes such as the 2nd Cuba-EU Expert Exchange?
Yes, especially as they make you realise that at any time and any place there are opportunities to develop and explore ideas and business. It is possible to look for tools, information, establish communication, computer systems and controls and even establish working links with multidisciplinary teams and satisfy tangible and intangible needs.
25 May 2021
The Spanish government recently presented Africa Focus 2023, a Spanish foreign policy action plan for its relations with African countries. FIIAPP, a participant in Spanish activities abroad, will continue to implement this plan through public technical cooperation. We have been doing this with projects that address migration management and the fight against human trafficking as well as the fight to combat Jihadist terrorism and corruption.
Shared interests, development potential and growing geopolitical weight make Africa is a strategic partner for Spain and the European Union. This is an enormous, complex region, with significant political, economic and social diversity . Africa faces major common challenges, from instability in regions like the Sahel and the scourge of terrorism to vulnerability to the effects of climate change, economic and social development and security and control over migration routes with an integral approach.
These challenges do not affect African countries alone. The consequences affect the entire planet, including the European Union. Which is why Spain and the European Union are working to improve relations with Africa , offering support in its efforts to address these challenges as far as possible.
The EU-African Union Summits will consist of meetings and dialogue between Africa and the European Union. The document “Towards a Global Strategy with Africa” was published last year by the European Commission and establishes five priority lines of association: ecological transition and access to energy; digital transformation; sustainable growth and employment; peace and governance; and migration and mobility. The strategy will be used as a framework for strengthening relations with Africa ahead of the 6th EU-AU Summit scheduled for this year.
Spain has also compiled its main strategies for relations with the African continent in its 3rd Africa Plan. With the basis premise “Spain and Africa: challenge and opportunity“, it advocates a new approach to Africa based on shared interests and a broad consensus among the main Spanish players on the continent.
The strategic objectives in the 3rd Africa Plan define the main areas of action: ensure peace and security in the region, foster inclusive, resilient economic growth, institutional strengthening and working for orderly, regular and safe mobility. All this considering five cross-cutting principles: differentiation; association; multilateralism; human rights and gender equality; and unity of action.
The 3rd Africa Plan defines the general lines that will govern Spain-Africa relations in the coming years. To implement this strategy, the Spanish government has published the Focus Africa 2023 action programme. The document will guide the activities of all government institutions in Africa and specify activities until the end of the current legislature in 2023.
Focus Africa 2023 is a part of the recently presented External Action Strategy 2021-2024. It is also aligned with the objectives and priorities of the African Union’s 2030 Agenda and 2063 Agenda . The action plan elucidates the four main objectives of the 3rd Africa Plan and establishes seven main areas.
Partners for Peace and Security
Security is an essential prerequisite for implementing development policies. Africa 2023 Focus pays special attention to the Sahel region and establishes it as a priority area to work by the Union. The document cites the work of the Rapid Action Groups (GAR) as examples of good practices in the region. We work with these Guardia Civil units to ensure regional stability through the GARSI-Sahel project, which is managed by FIIAPP. We also work with the GAR to better protect public spaces against terrorist attacks as part of the CT Public Spaces project in Ghana, Kenya and Senegal.
We also work in countries including Mauritania, supporting maritime security; Morocco, promoting the development of the Presidency of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in collaboration with the General Prosecutor’s Office and in Mozambique , where we are helping to strengthen judicial institutions and anti-corruption mechanisms.
Partners for the development of sustainable, fair and inclusive economies, African regional integration and the fight against climate change
Economic growth and the fight against climate change must go hand-in-hand with social cohesion policies to ensure that no one is left behind. Spain will work with African countries to implement policies that encourage a just transition. Regional integration is another priority, and initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Economic Community of West African States will receive support.
We are about to start a new project to support civil society in local governance in Angola. The objective is to contribute to economic growth and social development in the country through inclusive, heterogeneous and effective participation by civil society in the local governance process.
Partners to boost Spanish trade, business presence and investment in Africa
The priority sectors identified are in this area are agri-food; water, sanitation and waste treatment; engineering and consulting; energy, particularly renewable energy; transport infrastructures; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; and digital transformation, a priority for the European Union and Spain alike.
Effective intellectual property and patent management is essential to ensure investment and business development. In Egypt , we are supporting improvements to the Egyptian Patent Office, particularly in the area of digitalisation. We also have a project that is working to digitalise education in Algeria in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.
Partners for strengthening global public services – health, water and sanitation
Africa Focus 2023 prioritises strengthening the health systems in African countries. The pandemic has highlighted the need for strong, resilient health systems able to cope with future challenges similar to COVID-19.
Humanitarian action partners
Humanitarian action will focus on food security and nutrition, protection and education in emergencies. Another priority area is the protection of women and girls in conflict situations.
Partners to promote gender equality and empower women and girls
In line with the government’s intention to develop a feminist foreign policy, it is doubling down on its commitment to support the empowerment of women and girls in all its foreign activities. Among the measures proposed are the promotion of a Women, Peace and Security agenda and more determined interventions to stamp out female genital mutilation.
The gender perspective is a transversal approach applied to all the projects in which FIIAPP is a participant. However, this aspect is getting particular attention in Morocco through the Living Without Discrimination project and in Burkina Faso through the Bridging the Gap disability programme.
Partners for migration and mobility management. Collaboration in the fight against irregular migration and human trafficking networks and encouraging orderly, legal and safe migration
Irregular migration and human trafficking are risky for their victims. Spain is collaborating with security forces in Africa to deal with this problem. FIIAPP is assisting with the fight through projects such as A-TIPSOM. This European cooperation project works to combat human trafficking and irregular migrant smuggling in Nigeria , prioritising women, girls and boys, the main victims of trafficking.
With the National Police Joint Investigation Teams we work through the ECI Niger project to support the government of Niger in the fight against criminal networks , irregular immigration and human trafficking. In Senegal we are also working to improve this problem through the POC project to quash irregular immigration and trafficking.
Development cooperation plays a fundamental and essential role in putting the actions in Africa Focus 2023 into practice. FIIAPP is working in Africa to further the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals by fostering knowledge sharing with public institutions. We do this under the auspices of the European Union, following the guidelines set out in the External Action Strategy 2021-2024, the 3rd Africa Plan and, now, by Africa Focus 2023. The success of the projects in Africa shows the need to continue cooperating in the region and promoting development-oriented public policies to improve citizens’ lives. Public cooperation, for people and the planet.
13 May 2021
Interview with Javier Samper, head of the Support Unit with the General Directorate of International Legal Cooperation and Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice, on the international cooperation work undertaken by the Ministry of Justice with FIIAPP.
What does the Ministry of Justice do? What institutions does it cover?
The work of the Ministry of Justice, in relation to FIIAPP, is complex and has several different and distinct facets. On the one hand, logically, the Ministry of Justice is basically an actor in development cooperation. The Ministry of Justice is also entrusted with a coordinating role, that is, it works with other actors that are also essential for any development cooperation project in the field of justice, such as the General Council of the Judiciary, the State General Prosecutor’s Office, the Spanish General Bar Association, notaries and registrars.
Why is it important for the Ministry of Justice to be involved in international cooperation projects? What does it contribute?
The experts at the Ministry of Justice are important in very diverse situations. It is also one of the competences of the Ministry of Justice. In other words, it is part of the work carried out by the Ministry of Justice and it is an issue that is included in our planning, our actions and ,of course, that is included in the strategy of the Ministry of Justice abroad.
The Ministry of Justice works on projects managed by FIIAPP. How long have they worked together and how is the relationship between FIIAPP and the Ministry?
I would say that the relationship between FIIAPP and MINJUS is excellent, it is very streamlined, which is essential. We work hand in hand with the Justice and Rule of Law area and, as a public institution, I would say that the relationship began the moment FIIAPP was created. I am aware that from the moment FIIAPP became involved in the twinning programmes, which are managed by the European Commission’s NEAR DG, twinning programmes have been led by the Ministry of Justice.
One of the main projects on which FIIAPP works with the Ministry of Justice is EL PAcCTO, what does this project involve?
El PAcCTO is a programme with an innovative approach to international legal cooperation or international cooperation in the fight against organised crime in Latin America, but also with a Euro-Latin American perspective. It is not only about improving the approach taken by public administrations and public powers in Latin America. In fact, it is also about building the working relationship, the cooperative relationship that exists between Latin American and European institutions.
As well as El PAcCTO, the Ministry of Justice works with FIIAPP on other projects. Could you tell us about some of its achievements?
At the moment we have a great relationship with Turkey, where we are currently working on three training projects for judges and prosecutors, civil enforcement offices and also, on advanced forensic analytical methods involving the Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences attached to the Ministry of Justice. In addition, there are, of course, several projects that are particularly significant to us because of the strategic importance of the subject at hand, and because it also has a novel approach. For example, the I-CRIME project, which mainly deals with the fight against organised crime in Central American countries.
By participating in cooperation projects, the Ministry of Justice shares its knowledge with its counterpart institutions, but are there also lessons to be learned?
Basically, the work is done by specific experts who travel to the beneficiary countries with the idea of transferring the knowledge and experiences that the Spanish administration has been accumulating over an extensive period, which, I believe, is highly valued abroad. The specialist comes back, not only with a large number of personal contacts in foreign administrations, which are then always enormously beneficial because they sometimes allow us to streamline procedures or use ideas, make consultations, etc. In addition, their work has forced them to analyse their situation, the situation in other states, a comparative analysis by gathering opinions from all kinds of specialists, from a multidisciplinary perspective. All this, logically, has a very beneficial impact when the official returns to the home administration.
What are the main challenges for justice in a globalised world?
The fight against terrorism, the financial freezing of organised crime, the fight against corruption, etc. However, I would say that all these issues have some common roots, not in terms of what happens at the beginning of the problem, but in the way of tackling them: good governance. Training in and the application of transparency measures in the adoption of public policies, this type of knowledge transfer, is what encourages and facilitates the international cooperation necessary to face all these challenges tomorrow. Which is why I believe that democratic governance is possibly our main challenge.
23 April 2021
Although it is now common for several countries to jointly face global challenges, this is a relatively new phenomenon. The first commitment to multilateralism can be found just a century ago, in 1919, with the creation of the League of Nations. This first attempt was not very successful and demonstrated the difficulties that can arise when national interests have to be set aside for a greater cause.
During the last few decades the geopolitical scene has undergone major transformations such as a shift in the centres of power towards Asia and the Pacific, the loss of US hegemony, the appearance of new actors and the questioning of international institutions such as the WHO, the OECD and the IMF. We live in a time of fragmentation and volatility in which nationalism, individualism and mistrust challenge progress towards a more interconnected, global and united world. This makes it essential that actors such as the UN, the European Union and the states themselves reinforce their commitment to multilateralism in order to face the challenges of the present and the future. Starting with the recovery from a global pandemic that has reminded us of the importance of globalisation and the need to regulate global challenges.
The UN has been committed to multilateralism for 75 years. A clear example of this commitment is the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These common objectives, to which all UN member countries have committed themselves, address complex issues that transcend borders such as climate change, the eradication of poverty and reducing inequality.
Among all the SDGs, number 17 “Alliances to Achieve the Goals” is, perhaps, the most relevant. Despite being the last on the list, it is essential for achieving the other goals. International alliances and multilateralism are the basis for guaranteeing a joint response to challenges that are insurmountable at the national level.
As the most advanced integration process at the global level, the European Union is one of the actors most committed to multilateralism and to strengthening international alliances. Earlier this year, the European Commission presented a new strategy to strengthen the EU’s contribution to multilateralism based on universal norms and values.
In this strategy, the European Union establishes dialogue, multilateral governance and international cooperation as essential strategic priorities to ensure a safer world and a sustainable and inclusive global recovery. The European Union is clear that cooperation and joint work as Team Europe is the only possible way.
The European Union’s commitment to multilateralism is strongly supported by Spain. The External Action Strategy 2021-2024 presented at the end of January includes regional integration and the reinforcement of multilateralism as one of its four substantive strands. Spain has the determined will to contribute to improving global governance mechanisms by supporting integration processes and promoting a more integrated, effective and reinforced multilateralism.
Both the European Union and Spain include international cooperation as a fundamental tool for achieving these objectives. FIIAPP is working via public technical cooperation to accompany public policy reform processes, but also to generate spaces of trust and alliances between administrations.
Through the regional programmes in which the Foundation participates, harmonised responses are being generated in the face of shared challenges. This generates common standards, policies and values and encourages rapprochement in international forums in favour of multilateral governance and sustainable development which benefits citizens.
FIIAPP is firmly committed to multilateralism, dialogue and joint work between actors from around the world. Public technical cooperation offers public institutions the opportunity to foster dialogue and the exchange of experiences, as well as to consolidate not only relationships but also shared links with citizens around the world.
05 March 2021
After decades of energy inefficiency, technological innovations have led to some enormous improvements in the responsible use of energy. However, the pressing need to curb climate change requires more efforts in this area.
Energy efficiency means optimising the use of resources to produce energy. As well as consuming fewer resources, it means reducing emissions. This is essential to gradual decarbonisation and to keep the increase in the planet’s temperature to a maximum of 1.5ºC. Companies and individuals have become more acutely aware of the finite nature of fossil fuels, their increasing cost and their environmental impact.
The international community made a global commitment in the 2015 Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. The goal for 2030 is to ensure that everybody has access to electricity and to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable sources of energy.
This general objective is specified in two of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among the aims of SDG7 “Affordable and clean energy” is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency from 2015 to 2030. As the UN Energy Progress Report points out, although things are improving, there is still much to be done. SDG11 “Sustainable cities and communities” also warns of the concentration of the population in cities and the need to develop adequate, energy efficient urban infrastructures.
To this end, in 2012 the European Union enacted a series of binding measures to promote energy efficiency with Directive 2012/27 / EU. In 2020, under the European Green Deal, the European Union committed to a more demanding objective of improving energy efficiency from 20% to 32.5% compared to 1990 levels.
With the 2030 Agenda and with European and Spanish cooperation as its point of reference, FIIAPP has been working on cooperation projects with public administrations around the world for more than 20 years. With the maxim of benefiting citizens, several of the projects implemented by the Foundation have included the promotion of public policies to foster energy efficiency among their objectives.
For example, under the EUROCLIMA + cooperation programme, we are currently working in collaboration with Paraguay to promote clean technologies and energy efficiency. As part of the “Promotion of the Efficient Use of Biomass in Paraguay” action, the Vice Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADES) are receiving support to develop a calculation tool for SMEs to carry out self-diagnosis of energy consumption and identify potential savings points.
In the field of Public Technical Cooperation, the team is working to design and run a national dissemination campaign targeting the agro-industrial sector. The purpose of this campaign is to instil the concept of energy efficiency and its benefits in economic, social and environmental aspects in the productive sector.
FIIAPP also works closely on energy efficiency matters with Cuban public bodies. Cuba has launched a new roadmap for the country to gradually incorporate renewable energy sources and work on energy efficiency. The aim is that by 2030 at least 24% of the energy generated will be renewable with better efficiency. This would mean saving 1.73 million tons of fuel per year and avoid releasing 6 million tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
One of the actions of the Cuba-EU II Expert Exchange programme aims to improve energy efficiency in the Cuban hospitality sector. Three specialists from the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (IRC) are taking part in a Master’s Degree in Energy Conversion Systems and Technologies, at the Rovira y Virgilio University in Tarragona.
Alexander Maura is working on his thesis on solar energy-based conversion systems in a hotel in an isolated area that generates its own electricity using fossil fuels, Ricardo Domínguez’s thesis explores the use of biogas for refrigeration and air conditioning purposes of a pig farm while Carlos Luis Izquierdo is designing a grid-connected photovoltaic system at IRC to boost renewable energy and reduce emissions.
‘Cuba Renovables’ is another of the projects managed by FIIAPP to promote energy efficiency among Cuban institutions. The project is part of the “Cuba Energy Support Programme”, implemented through a programme of cooperation between the EU and Cuba. Its aim is to contribute to the effective implementation of the ‘Policy for the prospective development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency’ in Cuba and its regulatory framework.
The project supports the new national policy promote rational use of energy by reducing consumption and increasing savings. Cuban institutions have already launched different awareness campaigns for the population. Companies also play an important role and work is being done to promote the production of equipment for private and industrial use that is more efficient in saving energy.
These projects are an example of the effort of the international community, the European Union and Spain to offer joint responses through cooperation to global problems such as climate change. With the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and the European Development Consensus as a guide, FIIAPP encourages public institutions to share their experience, steering them to generate results, forge relationships of trust and strengthen values in societies.