This Monday marks the first meeting of the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council. This is the first meeting of this body in nearly a year and a half, and it had been frequently requested by the autonomous regions governed by the Partido Popular, which after this year’s regional elections are in the majority.
Natàlia Mas, the minister responsible for these policies in Catalonia, will not attend, and in her place will be the Secretary General of Economy, Josep Maria Vilarrúbia, and the Director General of Budgets, Esther Pallarols. Mas’s argument, according to the digital newspaper El Español, is that there is already a “singular negotiation” open between the Generalitat and the State on the financing of Catalonia, the negotiating table for which will begin in the first quarter of 2024.
This is the first of the concessions on regional funding that the PSOE has promised ERC in exchange for the support of the Catalan pro-independence supporters for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as president of the government.
The agreement between the Socialists and ERC states that the State and the Generalitat will agree on “how to achieve adequate funding that guarantees the financial sufficiency of public services in Catalonia” in a bilateral commission.
They will also “ensure compliance with the investment commitments contained in the region’s Statute of Autonomy” and how to “legally and economically address” the need to achieve “a sufficient level of funding and investment”.
This already means putting the Generalitat of Catalonia one step above the rest of the autonomous regions. This is something they are sure to complain about in the Fiscal Policy Council, despite the fact that it is not on the agenda.
In fact, the only major issue to be addressed today is the deficit and public debt targets for the 2024-2026 cycle that the regions will have to meet.
Thus, there are no issues such as the steps that the Ministry of Finance plans to take in the reform of regional funding (promised by Sánchez in his investiture speech) or how the regions’ public debt relief will be implemented.
This is also part of the agreement with ERC. The Socialists committed to forgiving €15 billion of the debt that the Generalitat of Catalonia owes to the state.