Politics 18/05/2021

Raising funds in international markets, a consultation on the Winter Olympics and no fiscal measures: the ERC-Junts pact in detail

4 min
Image of the last executive council before the investiture of Pere Aragonès

BarcelonaHaving had such a hard time reaching an investiture agreement, it is not surprising that the 46 pages of the document agreed by Junts and ERC are fairly vague. Strengthen, consolidate, promote, develop, continue, stimulate, intensify, improve and transform are the most commonly used verbs by the coalition partners, who, even so, propose a score of laws - some of which are recurring promises from recent years - and a dozen national pacts.

In the midst of the health crisis and its economic consequences, the Government of Pere Aragonès proposes to seek finance in international markets "preferably by initiating the issuance of green bonds and alternative financing mechanisms to those of State liquidity". It has been almost a decade since Catalonia was last able to seek funds in the market due to its delicate financial situation.

The economic reconstruction, however, will make it necessary to increase public spending in the coming years. For example, €700m will be earmarked "immediately to promote the hiring of young people, women, the over-45s and people in vulnerable situations, rescue families, tackle extreme poverty and homelessness and reduce waiting lists for dependency care programmes". Another €1bn per year will allocated to housing policies (in the 2020 budget did not reach €400m), among other objectives to increase the public rental housing stock by 5,000 homes per year. In the field of health, primary care would have to receive €300m more per year to reach 25% of the health budget (currently at 17%). All these measures were already part of the agreement with CUP.

However, no detail is given on how the extraordinary resources will be obtained, beyond demanding better financing from the State and the receipt of European Next Generation funds, which will be managed by the Department of Economy with the support of an interdepartmental commission. If the Generalitat can finance itself at a reasonable cost in international markets would be one solution. Another would be raising taxes, one of the issues that has traditionally strained the relationship between ERC and JxCat. In fact, in the pact the two parties tiptoe over taxation and limit themselves to writing that they will work "to achieve a fair tax system and further the environmental taxation in line with European Union recommendations".

It is not yet known whether the Government will try to approve the 2021 budgets or whether it will focus on the 2022 budget instead. Whatever it does, JxCat and ERC have agreed that, in parallel, they will also draw up the "national accounts for a [would-be] Catalan state to visualise its economic potential with respect to the current situation", an idea that Solidaritat already tried to exploit when it had parliamentary representation. There are many other proposals that you can consult in the document and which we summarise below.

Electoral law and electronic voting

Catalonia is the only autonomous community without its own electoral law after 41 years of democracy. Maybe this time the parties have decided to solve this problem for real -the restrictions during the pandemic have made its usefulness evident- and, for this reason, they have agreed "to promote the approval of a Catalan electoral law and the implementation of electronic voting".

Winter Olympic Games

"To develop the Pyrenees-Barcelona candidacy to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games on the basis of a broad territorial, social and political consensus that guarantees its social and environmental governance. The Government will promote debate and will propose a consultation in accordance with section "e" of motion 104/XII of the Parliament of Catalonia".

Young until you hit 30

The parties have also agreed measures that will mean benefits for young people will be available for under-30s, instead of under-25s as until now. The first is rail transport discounts; the second, the Escena 25 campaign, which will offer discounts on cultural events up to the age of 29. There are other more generic proposals to promote public transport and help the cultural sector, which has been hit hard by the health crisis.

More and better paid health workers

To speed up the vaccination plan, 3,700 professionals will be hired, and in the management of the crisis, mass antigen and PCR tests will be implemented "taking advantage of the whole health and pharmacy network, which will allow outbreaks to be limited and controlled". Beyond the projected improvements in primary care, "improve working conditions and remuneration of health professionals, and incorporate new staff in order to retain and capture talent" and increase "the supply of public places to reduce temporariness" are part of the document.

Free education 0-3 years

It is not new and, in fact, the current Catalan Education Minister had already committed to it. In any case, "the universalisation and progressive gratuity of education for ages 0 to 3" is again part of the pact along with a plan to prevent school failure, promote dual vocational training and maintain the use of Catalan as a vehicular language in schools.

Menstrual equality

There is no mention of free feminine hygiene products -Pere Aragonés did mention this during the failed investiture debates- but there is a guarantee of "menstrual hygiene products in all educational centres where women and menstruating people study up until the nnd year of baccalaureate [the last year of secondary school]". The gender perspective will also be part of all government policies, including in public procurement, "promoting the mandatory incorporation of gender clauses".

Professional public management

It was in ERC's and JxCat's programme, so it should not have taken them long to agree on this point. It aims to "professionalise management positions of the administration of the Generalitat and its public sector". There are 500 senior officials who, until changes are wrought, will be handpicked by coalition partners. In the agreement they defend "identifying those places of public management in the public sector that can be provided through selection processes that take into account the merits and abilities of the candidates and the evaluation of results". They also propose a "professional management" for the Catalan Corporation of Audiovisual Media.

20 laws and 11 national pacts

The document includes the approval or reform of the following laws: law on tourism, law on territory, law to prevent evictions of vulnerable families, law on biodiversity and cultural heritage, law on energy transition, law on waste prevention and management, law on public procurement, law on local governments and financing, law on citizen participation, Catalan electoral law, law on the protection of whistleblowers, law on lobbies, comprehensive law on democratic memory, law on the Catalan police system, law on the public security system, law on emergencies, law on the promotion of personal autonomy, law on sport, law on science, law on patronage in R+D and law on cultural policies.

And they also intend to promote national pacts in the areas of language, industry, food, energy transition, health, mental health, interculturality, the rights of people with disabilities, physical activity, the knowledge society and timetable reform.