Blocks of residential apartments in Barcelona.Albert Garcia
The Generalitat government intended to begin applying the Housing law in Catalonia as early as this month of September, but its aspirations will have to wait. After a meeting of more than four hours between the Minister of Territory, Ester Capella, and the Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez, the long-awaited agreement has not been reached so that a cap on the increases can begin to be put in place. of rental prices. The Government has not validated the report of the 140 Catalan municipalities that the Government declared as areas stressed by the residential market, and will not do so until a reference index of homogeneous rental prices is prepared for all of Spain, as explained by the counselor Capella at a press conference in Madrid, at the end of the meeting. On the other hand, they have reached agreements regarding the Rodalies railway network, and investments in infrastructure.
In his appearance, Capella highlighted the Government’s willingness to reach agreements, and defended that the meeting, which lasted two hours longer than planned and was held in the midst of negotiations for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, had borne fruit. But this willingness to agree has not yet materialized in terms of housing. Since the Law for the Right to Housing was approved in May, the Government has moved to be able to apply it as soon as possible – although ERC and Junts also approved in Parliament to appeal the Housing Law to the Constitutional Court, understanding that it invades powers of the Generalitat—and it has been the only community that has already prepared, published and submitted to the Government a list of areas stressed by the residential market. This list, of 140 municipalities, is necessary to deploy in these localities many of the measures contemplated by the law, such as the cap on rent increases, which from 2025 must be based on a reference index of property prices. rent (and not in the CPI as until now).
The Generalitat wants this index to be the one it already developed for the Catalan housing law – approved in 2020, and which the Constitutional Court overturned in March 2022 – but the Government prefers that the index be homogeneous throughout Spain. “There has been no agreement regarding the memory of the stressed areas, nor regarding the index. The Ministry wants to apply a homogeneous one, and we demand that the Catalan index be applied. What there is agreement on is the need to move forward to expand the public housing stock,” Capella expressed. The counselor has detailed that the Ministry’s commitment is to publish the reference index “as soon as possible”, although there is no set deadline. “The Housing Law is in force, and the Government is the one who has the capacity to comply with it. We have done all the necessary work, among other things because we already had an index and studies on the most affected areas,” she added.
Regarding the classification of 140 municipalities as stressed areas, the counselor explained that the Ministry has not approved the reports due to “a different interpretation of some articles, and because they want to do this and the index at the same time.” Just last Tuesday, the entities of the Catalan real estate sector filed an appeal before the Department of Territory against the proclamation of these 140 localities as tense areas, since they consider that it has been done without taking into account the Town Councils. Capella has also asked Sánchez for the free transfer of the homes of Sareb, the so-called bad bank, that are suitable for the needs of Catalonia, where public housing could be located at an affordable price and for rent.
Where there has been agreement between the two parties is in the area of infrastructure and investments. Although Capella starts from some maximum demands – especially, the entire transfer of the Rodalies network to the Generalitat, one of the demands that Esquerra Republicana has made to Pedro Sánchez in the framework of the negotiations for the investiture -, these have not been met. discussed at the meeting, as they were not on the agenda. Sánchez and Capella have agreed to double, before the end of the year, the frequency of Rodalies trains in the province of Lleida, on a line, the R12, which will be managed by the Generalitat through Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya from 2025. In fact, the commitment to double the frequencies was already reached in 2021.
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Capella and Sánchez have also agreed to improve the response time to network incidents, as well as the transparency and information of these failures. This agreement comes after a summer full of incidents — in the last 60 days there have been 26 serious incidents, according to the letter that the department sent to the Ministry, and Capella has recalled that on eight out of every ten days incidents are recorded on the network — , in which the Government has raised complaints to the Government and has demanded again and again the transfer of the management of Rodalies.
The other area of agreement has been reached in investments. Both parties have agreed that within a month the texts of the agreements and protocols must be ready to carry out the agreed investments in the N-260 (Pyrenean axis), the N-II in the Maresme region, the improvement of connectivity on the AP-2 and AP-7, the railway interchanges in Sant Cugat del Vallès and Rubí, and the controversial construction of the Northern Ring Road, or B-40, between Terrassa and Sabadell passing through Castellar del Vallès. The drafting of the texts in the next month will allow them to be signed before the end of the year and already have the budget allocation of 914 million euros to carry out the investments. On the other hand, Capella explained that at the meeting the minister also committed to paying “immediately” the 200 million euros corresponding to compliance for this year with the third additional provision of the Statute.
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