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The Spanish government's energy saving measures decree - aimed at reducing electricity consumption through a series of measures - was passed comfortably by Congress this Thursday afternoon. But not before it had received criticism from some quarters for its "fruit salad" nature: under the guise of passing urgent measures to combat Spain's energy crisis, it also included unrelated and dubious measures. One of the strongest critiques came from Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, who criticized those parties who let the Pedro Sánchez government off the hook by supporting the measure and letting questionable aspects slip by. "Every time you see a smoke screen - offensive statements or unpresentable articles - it is an attempt to hide [the giving of] shameful support for the Spanish government so that it can continue to do what it has always done and in the benefit of the same [interests] as ever", Puigdemont said in a tweet. Specifically, he accuses the Spanish government of using the decree to "rescue motorway operators and give money to electricity companies".

captura tuit Puigdemont

Speaking in the same vein, the Junts spokesperson in Congress, Miriam Nogueras, called the decree "a fruit salad" on Wednesday because of the wide variety of items it mixes together. "Yes, it's a great headline, but the reality is that it also includes legal amendments to the 2021 budget law that facilitates the payment by the state for the rescue of Madrid's radial motorways," she said. A total of nine motorways being constructed around the Spanish capital in the boom of the early 2000s were left stranded when the companies building them went broke in the 2008 financial crisis, and the state payments on the infrastructure come despite the insistence in 2013 of the public works minister Ana Pastor, of the Popular Party, that the solution reached for these motorways would not cost "a single public euro".

Nogueras also spoke this Thursday before the Congress and criticized an item that she estimated at 1.3 billion euros destined for large electricity-sector companies in the energy saving decree, and in which the Spanish government did not specify the amount going to each company, which she said was the same approach being applied to the rescue of the Madrid radial motorways. In an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, the Junts spokeswoman assured that "it is a very common practice in this government, that they push it through by royal decrees and include a bit of everything".

From the CUP, Albert Botran also condemned the mixing of issues and expressed the view that it is a serious mistake to focus on the energy crisis in Russia, because then the focus is not placed on "fundamental aspects" such as the climate emergency.

ERC votes yes, seeking future amendments 

Meanwhile, the spokesman for ERC in the chamber, Gabriel Rufián, explained that, despite looking with displeasure at the fact that the text includes other issues not related to energy saving, his party's 'yes' responds to the desire to get the decree processed as a full law (as the Spanish government has promised) and thus be able to include their demands for improvements. In fact, the PSOE deputy César Ramos detailed during the debate that the document will be processed in a maximum of four weeks to close the deadline for amendments.

And the other Catalan party, PDeCAT also ended up voting in favour of the measure, and its spokesperson, Ferran Bel, celebrated, like Rufián, that its future status as a full law will allow for amendments from the other groups. Furthermore, the Socialists also secured the support of other investiture partners, such as the Basque pro-independence party EH Bildu. Spokesperson Mertxe Aixpurua justified the decision out of "responsibility" and because the party approves of the energy and social measures it contains. In addition, EH Bildu reached agreement with the Spanish government on the revision upwards of the climate change law objectives for 2023. The Basque Nationalists (PNV) and left-wing Más País also voted in favour, while the Galician BNG abstained, and the three right-wing parties - People's Party, Vox and Ciudadanos - opposed the bill.