After two years of constant negotiations between the political groups, it seemed that within the Toledo Pact Commission there were an agreement in principle to renew the pension policy.

As published by El Confidencial, there was a draft that, after two years of constant negotiations between political groups, could have been approved today, allowing it to be voted in the plenary session of Congress next week, before the dissolution of the Cortes paralyzes legislative activity for several months.

And it is that the call for elections had fallen like a bomb on the commission, motivating it to try to close the last fringes of the document that would have determined the future of pensions in Spain. However, at the last minute, this has not been possible. Finally, today’s meeting has only served to make visible the disagreement between the parties.

There was the option of holding a second meeting next Thursday, but it has been ruled out. Gerardo Camps, PP spokesman in the commission, has acknowledged that, after much work, the groups were “very close to the agreement”, but that the work should already be in the hands of the next Congress.

His Lordships will legislate on the price of robots

Despite the final disagreement, it is worth noting the presence in the draft that was discussed today of a novel reference to the role of robotization in the financing of pensions: one of the recommendations made was to propose new ways of financing for Social Security if robots end up dragging on job growth and the weight of wages in GDP:

“If the technological revolution implies an increase in productivity, but not necessarily an increase in employment, the challenge is to find innovative mechanisms that complement the financing of Social Security.”

In short: our parliamentarians have been about to open the door to a ‘tax on robots’ as a way to “strengthen the financial structure of the system through the diversification of your sources of income“.

This was a longstanding debate: already in the first year of the legislature, in one of his first acts as leader of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez raised the need for robots would ‘contribute to Social Security’ to compensate for job losses that were already beginning to provoke.

But this option did not seem to convince his counterpart in CCOO, Unai Sordo, who last year expressed his disagreement in these terms:

“We think that if robotization is implemented in companies it is to improve productivity, and that what must be taxed is the business profit with a much more active operation of corporate tax.”

In fact, this disparity of criteria seems to have also been reproduced among the deputies of Congress, who even in the final failed draft they also left the door open to that second possibility.

Bill Gates and the European Parliament have already put the issue on the table

Of course, not only Spain is having a debate about the taxation of robots. Already in 2017 Bill Gates brought the issue to the front pages of the world: “If a robot replaces the work of a human, this robot must pay taxes like a human.”

The reasoning behind Gates’s words was that companies that are opting for robots will continue to increase their revenue By reducing costs and increasing production, each robot must be taxed at a level similar to that of a human worker.

Around the same time, a report from the European Parliament proposed consider robots as persons for legal purposes, in order for them to be taxed and thus be able to contribute to launching a basic citizen income system throughout the Union.

It is true that, finally, said report came to nothing after the parliamentary process amended it to collect only generic references on the need to legislate on the use of robots.

Note: the news has been updated after the end of the meeting of the Toledo Pact Commission.