2023 budget deal one step closer after government reaches deal with En Comú Podem

Government still looking for further support for bill to be approved by lawmakers

Catalan president Pere Aragonès and En Comú Podem leader Jéssica Albiach sign the 2023 budget deal agreement between the cabinet and the anti-austerity party in a ceremony in the government HQ on December 14, 2022
Catalan president Pere Aragonès and En Comú Podem leader Jéssica Albiach sign the 2023 budget deal agreement between the cabinet and the anti-austerity party in a ceremony in the government HQ on December 14, 2022 / Sílvia Jardí
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

December 14, 2022 01:40 PM

December 14, 2022 07:48 PM

The 2023 Catalan budget is one step closer to being approved, after the governing party Esquerra Republicana reached a deal with left-wing En Comú Podem for their support.

The bill will still require further support from other parties, as ERC and ECP combined do not have a majority in the parliament. In total, 27 parliamentary votes are still needed to see the 2023 spending plan passed, and the government are still in talks with the Socialists and former coalition partners Junts.

Catalan president Pere Aragonès and leader of En Comú Podem, Jéssica Albiach, formally signed the deal on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of a press conference with ECP and the economy and presidency ministers, Natàlia Mas and Laura Vilagrà.

In early December, Albiach announced a initial agreement for the budget negotiations which will see certain measures extended for 2023, including the reduction in price of public transport, free transport for children under 16, and eligibility for the T-Jove card being expanded up to the age of 30.

The executive still needs support from the Socialists. However, their leader in parliament, Salvador Illa, said they are still "far" from reaching a deal with the cabinet on the spending plan. 

After a meeting with the president during the day, the "working routine has improved," but "there is still a lot to do," he said. 

But despite Illa's comments, for the Catalan government considers that the deal with En Comú Podem is "fully confirmed" and will not change in the future. There are no "technical nor time" reasons why the 2023 spending plan does not go ahead, as the executive believes a deal with PSC and Junts will be reached "very soon."

Something, Albiach wishes for, as the measures approved between the cabinet and her party are "good for the territory and should be in place as soon as possible," she said during the press conference. 

"I urge the Catalan government and other political parties to accelerate the ongoing negotiations to support the 2023 budget deal," she added.


The agreement

In the public transport sector, En Comú Podem highlights the importance of trains connecting Catalonia, which pushed them to get guarantees that the executive will urge the Spanish government to reimplement the AVANT Tortosa-Barcelona train line, a rail link connecting the south of Catalonia with the capital.

Another agreement will see, in 2025, the creation of four train lines operated by Catalan FGC trains in the western city of Lleida

Added to these proposals, the Catalan government and En Comú Podem agreed to prepare a report on the most vulnerable neighborhoods across Catalonia to find key locations to install renewable energy farms. 

With the deal, the Catalan public energy company will see if they can pay for these energy projects and install solar panels on top of private and public buildings. The idea is to reach at least 15 MW of energy coming from solar energy. 

All of the energy generated will then be offered to families in vulnerable situations. 

Some of the measures are part of a €555 million "social plan" that also will assign €87.6 million in aid to pay rent. But the main goal is to form a housing project to see several empty apartments offered as public housing at affordable prices.

The agreement also tackles the health system, with the idea of increasing the primary health care budget. In this case, the 2023 budget will see a €297 million increase on the already assigned budget of around €2.35 billion.

The government and ECP reached a deal on financial terms to adapt the current Catalan wealth tax to Spanish standards. Politicians expect to receive over €12 million more for spending thanks to this new regulation.

The 16-page document signed between Jéssica Albiach and Pere Aragonès also sees the creation of a tax for cruises, which was already announced by the government. The two politicians also proposed the idea of taxing ultra-processed food, something that was already suggested in the 2022's budget deal agreement.