ERC presents partial amendments to the Budgets as the agreement on audiovisual law has not yet been closed

The Government’s agreement with ERC on the drafting of the audiovisual law, on how to force foreign platforms to offer a quota of works in co-official languages ​​in their catalog, remains unfinished. It is close, but it is not done. And since it wasn’t sealed this afternoon, Republicans registered their partial amendments to the General State Budget for 2022 in the Senate. It was the logical conclusion: if there was no pact, ERC had to make a move before the deadline set by the upper house closed. However, he still has two weeks ahead of him to withdraw them in case the understanding sets in, as both parties hope. In other words, there is still room for negotiation.

The independentistas already made the most symbolic gesture last week: on Friday the time to present the general and partial vetoes to the State accounts ended at two in the afternoon, which the full Senate began to discuss precisely this Thursday. By not registering a veto and not supporting any of the five signed by PP, JxCat, Vox, Ciudadanos and Coalición Canaria. By then, the Government, PSOE and ERC had met and had agreed to advance in technical and political meetings, in order to also force foreign audiovisual giants that are not based in Spain (Netflix, HBO Max or Amazon Prime Video) to assume a percentage for works in Catalan, Galician or Basque. The next time milestone was met this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. The Executive hoped to be able to close the agreement by then, but it was not possible, so the Republicans registered in the upper house their 16 amendments to pressure the Socialists, to whom they asked for “more explicit commitments” and who recalled that their support to the State Budget “is not guaranteed.”

“Our intention is for the Government to respond to the demands of Esquerra Republicana to guarantee rights to Catalans, as well as to protect minority languages, and so far this has not been the case & rdquor;, lamented in a statement the spokesperson for the formation in the Senate , Mirella Cortés. “For this reason,” due to the lack of agreement in the audiovisual law, the note continued, the Republicans presented “a series of territorial amendments that would affect investments in the Bages, the Ebro Delta, the Maresme, the Tarragonès o Lleida, among others, as well as a clause for the fulfillment of the planned investments and the incorporation of a covid fund of 13,000 million euros “.

The Executive promised to approve the audiovisual law only with ERC, but this warns that it will not support a rule that “does not give a good response to the current situation of marginalization of Catalan in audiovisual platforms.” “There is, therefore, still room for negotiation both in the processing of this law and in the framework of the General State Budgets in the Senate,” say the independentistas. It is true, there is time: once the bill overcomes the general vetoes and the sections this Friday, the text will be discussed next week in a presentation and committee, and in plenary session as of Tuesday, December 21. ERC could withdraw its partial amendments in the plenary session itself. “When the PSOE moves, we will move”, clarified sources of the separatist group in the Senate. The objective is clear, in the words of Cortés: that the audiovisual law “shields the Catalan language on all digital platforms”, and not only applies to Spanish operators (Movistar +, Atresplayer Premium, Mitele, Filmin or FlixOlé).

ERC, therefore, maintains the pressure and leaves its support for Budgets in the air. In addition, it introduces a relevant amendment in the Senate: that a covid fund of 13,000 million euros be incorporated, something that the Treasury is not willing to do. In fact, this same Thursday Minister María Jesús Montero warned again in the hemicycle that the amendment promoted by JxCat and approved by Congress, the creation of a fund for the autonomous communities to combat the consequences of the coronavirus, of 9,362 million, it is unenforceable. That initiative, as recognized by the lawyers of the Lower House, was technically poorly formulated, since the bill that was withdrawn did not exist in the bill and the amount that was deleted (7,005 million) and the one that was incorporated did not match. (those 9,362 million).

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Montero, at the end of his defense of the Budgets in the Senate on Thursday, admitted that the agreement with the Republicans is not closed. “We agree on the basics,” he said, but all that remains is to find the legal framework that respects current legislation. In the hemicycle, Senator Cortés assured that in her group they have a “will to understand”, but the negotiation is not closed, so they were forced to present partial amendments.

ERC’s maneuver may frustrate the Executive’s claim that the State accounts leave the Senate without modifications and from there, directly, to the BOE. Not only because of the disagreement that persists in the audiovisual law. The PP has once again presented an amendment to reduce VAT on hairdressers, barber shops and beauty centers from 21% to 10%, which was previously supported by all groups in the upper house except the PSOE. If now that amendment to the Budget were successful, the bill would have to return to Congress the last week of the year, and could overturn or ratify that amendment. However, the socialist leadership in the Senate is calm: it believes that the agreement with ERC is “close” and that if there is finally an agreement, it will mean that the partners not only support the Executive’s text, but also reject the changes proposed by the right.

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