Last-minute negotiations to approve Catalan budget for 2024

Governing Esquerra and opposition Socialists need third party to back spending plan

Catalan president Pere Aragonès responds to Junts in parliament
Catalan president Pere Aragonès responds to Junts in parliament / Rafa Garrido
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 11, 2024 11:37 AM

March 11, 2024 03:12 PM

Just two days before Catalonia's 2024 budget goes to parliament, it still lacks enough support to be approved. 

Last month, the governing Esquerra and opposition Socialists passed the record €43 billion spending plan, but the two parties do not have a majority and will need to find a third partner. 

The left-wing Catalunya en Comú (Comuns), which supported last year's budget with the Socialists and Esquerra and was their most likely third partner, announced last week that it would present a total amendment of the budget. 

Although the amendment can be withdrawn at the last minute, the Comuns' condition for doing so is the cancellation of the Hard Rock casino complex project

Catalunya En Comú spokesperson Joan Mena today called on Esquerra to "correct its mistake" and stop the project.  

"Will the government refuse to approve the budget for a project that it does not even defend?," Mena said.  

Esquerra, however, claims that it is not a political but a technical decision and insists that nothing can be done to stop the project. 

Esquerra spokesperson Marta Vilalta today urged the Comuns to choose between a "solid budget" or maintaining budgets that still contain historic cuts from previous parties. 

Negotiation with Junts at a standstill 

Without the support of the Comuns, Esquerra explored other options to garner enough support to pass the budgets. One of them was Junts, the other pro-independence party with which political tensions have been high in recent years.  

On Monday morning, Junts presented a total amendment to the Catalan budget for 2024, although they said it was "preventive" and that they were open to withdrawing it if the government accepted their proposals.   

Junts and the Catalan government have met several times in recent weeks to try to reach an agreement on the accounts, but the main stumbling block has been the abolition of the inheritance tax.  

With Junts' total amendment, all parties in the parliament except Esquerra and the Socialists have tabled amendments to the accounts.  On Wednesday, Parliament will hold the first vote on the spending plan, with the final vote taking place in early April

Catalonia's 2024 budget: key points at a glance

The 2024 budget is expected to be the most expansive in history, increasing by 6.3% to €43 billion compared to last year's budget. 

Health will receive the largest share, with an additional €636 million bringing the total to €12 billion, followed by education with an additional €682 million to reach €7.5 billion. 

Spending on culture will see the highest percentage increase, at 19.5%, reaching €566 million and now representing 1.7% of the total budget. Esquerra aims to reach the 2% target by the end of its term. 

Since Catalan president Pere Aragonès took office in 2021, the budget has increased by 34%. The government attributes the increase to the robust economy and the suspension of fiscal rules.