The agreement between Junts per Catalunya, Esquerra Republicana and En Comú will allow that, after two financial years, 2018 and 2019, of the Catalan budget rolling over, this 2020 it can be substituted for a new one with a strong social component. The budget gives significant priority to two departments as sensitive for the public as Health and Education; it gives greater staff resources to the Mossos d'Esquadra police force and the fire service, growing, as such, the interior ministry; it increases non-capital spending by more than 3 billion euros (£2.6 billion; $3.3 billion) and increases public investment by more than 400 million euros to 2 billion. Budgets are always as difficult to explain as they are to pass if there's no clear majority and, certainly, in Catalonia they tend to cost more than elsewhere given the fractured nature of the political map.
If the budget tends to be an achievement, almost always, in any government, of the person in charge of the economy, in this case that's doubly true, since that minister has had to take on the negotiations with a certain apathy from the Catalan president, Quim Torra, too often little interested in the complicated management of the administration of the autonomous community. In the end, it had to be minister Meritxell Budó (JxCat) who appeared in the photo of the negotiations to present the three-way agreement.
The vice-president and economy minister, Pere Aragonès, has managed a triple feat with the budget: he emerges as a politician capable of pulling together agreements beyond the strict confines of the government; he strengthens his leadership within Esquerra Republicana, a party in which he's been taking on an ever greater public role; and he gets a little closer to his nomination as candidate for president of Catalonia. To this we have to add that the complex arithmetic in the Congress and the agreement for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez has given him a direct line of communication with the Spanish government, something there isn't a lot of in the Catalan executive.
Not everything sparkles in this new budget since, for example, the tax increase on income above 90,000 euros is a headline that's hard to swallow and hard to sell. Above all, because if the fiscal deficit Catalonia is suffering from of some 16 billion euros were to be reversed, the accounts would be more expansive and cost the public's pockets less. It's necessary to continue insisting on the affront of the fiscal deficit, explain it well outside and within Catalonia and mobilise Catalan society to overcome the injustice it represents.
The independence movement has to try, by all means possible, to achieve its political objective and maintain its electoral commitment. But until then, it's necessary to keep striving in the ordinary management of a Catalan administration subject to institutional abuses with very few precedents in Europe. To do so, the budget is good leverage, knowing that it's not the just nor the definitive solution, far from it.