Read in Catalan

Despite it having been said, frequently and without any real basis, that the Catalan government budget was about to be passed, for many weeks now - at least since November - and that the green light was just days away, it has not been until this Thursday that the first tangible evidence has arrived that the Generalitat government will be able to proceed with its 2023 public accounts. For this, it has been necessary for the Republican Left (ERC) executive to accept the contradiction of unblocking the B-40 highway project, known as the Ronda del Vallès, an infrastructure that it opposed with total belligerence, in order to avoid the budget to be hopelessly sunk. President Pere Aragonès himself piloted this change of course and, as a result, Parliament has ended up voting on a legislative initiative in this regard.

We will see in a few days if this move by ERC, no doubt costly for them although necessary, is sufficient. In any case, it has greatly reduced the tension between the Republicans and the Socialists (PSC) of Salvador Illa, in a session of rapprochement between the two parties which will mean that, from Monday, the talks between them, which were blocked, will resume. The budget, or rather the budget negotiations, now leave the pits, to return to the race and try to reach the goal, which is none other than a final agreement. ERC has made a move, that is obvious, and has sacrificed something more than a pawn: it has in fact thrown into the fire its territorial minister, Juli Fernàndez, ex-mayor of Sabadell and one of the Vallès leaders who were radically opposed to the B-40, since after decades of carrying the banner of rejection of this infrastructure he assumes the commitment of carrying it out. Not recognizing that political gesture would be very short-sighted, even if ERC had no choice but to do so due to the fact that its government only has the meager voting support of its own 33 deputies in Parliament.

But I insist, for the negotiation to be closed, there remain rather more than a few loose ends to be tied up. This same public commitment acquired by the government over the Ronda del Vallès will have to be put in writing regarding the expansion of the Barcelona-El Prat airport and the construction of the Hard Rock project, the tourist complex in Tarragona, so that the negotiation does not derail again. But it is clear that if the Fourth Beltway has been unlocked, which emerged as the mother of all battles, since there could not be an agreement that would satisfy both parties, ERC and the PSC, then El Prat should be much easier and the Hard Rock plan has not taken up so many minutes, since the agreement already existed. Salvador Illa has given some clues in this direction and has spoken about the document delivered to the Catalan government on December 28th and the obstacles in some areas of the text that are still troublesome for the Catalan executive.

President Aragonès has won an important battle within his party against other leaders who, at the current juncture, were leaning more towards extending the previous year's budget. Oriol Junqueras himself made it clear publicly, at a certain point, that an extension was not such a bad option. Others did so only in private. The fact that this weekend the Republican Left celebrates the second part of its congress, focused on its political committee, and the PSC holds its national council meeting, will help to visualize the next steps of both parties. But it will not be until Monday that we may have the guarantee that the softly-softly approach between ERC and PSC of this Thursday is aimed at passing the budget, something which both have explicitly indicated that they desire, or, on the contrary, if they will return to the previous screen from which it took so long to emerge.