The European Commission has reacted to the rebellion of some autonomous regions, including the Generalitat, with regards their budget cuts by calling on the Spanish government to take more control over the regional governments (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). While some autonomous community governments are resisting the central government's levels of spending limitations, the opposition Partido Popular has threatened to reveal certain regional budgets that they say have nothing to do with official figures. In response, the Commission has put this issue at the centre of its dealings with Spain regarding its economy. There are doubts within the European community about the ability of the Spanish government, led by prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, to discipline regional governments that don't meet budget targets. As such, the Commission will today recommend that the government reinforce its control over spending and the deficit of each community and the main local corporations to make sure that they don't undermine the efforts of the Madrid administration to cut the national deficit to six percent of the GDP this year, and to three percent in 2013.
The Generalitat is planning changes to the Housing and Town Planning Law with the aim of bringing some relief to the construction sector, which has suffered significantly as a result of the financial crisis (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Building companies have had many problems obtaining credit from banks, and have a large number of empty properties that they have been trying to sell since the housing bubble burst three years ago. As such, the Generalitat is easing some of the regulations introduced by the last coalition government, for example, reducing the obligatory reserves of land when building subsidised housing, and enabling the recipients of such housing to buy a second residence if they are able (at present, applicants for a subsidised flat or house are not eligible if they already own a property although the law doesn't say that they can't buy one after the application has been approved). The housing secretary, Carles Sala, said that there are currently 70,000 new properties for sale on the open market and 3,000 subsidised properties (belonging to the Catalan Housing Agency) that are vacant. Sala said it didn't make any sense to prevent a family living in subsidised housing from buying another property if they benefited from an inheritance or saw an improvement in their means thanks to the economy doing better.
Following the recent municipal elections, Convergència i Unió (CiU) has decided not to challenge the results in certain towns and cities where one party won the greatest number of votes, but not an absolute majority, while two or more of the other parties could make up the council through a coalition (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The most notable example of this is in Badalona where the Partido Popular was the most-voted party on May 22nd, and in Tarragona where the PSC is in a similar position, but neither have an absolute majority. This was agreed yesterday by the executive of the party, which decided that CiU had to respect the most-voted-for party in individual municipalities; however, they also added that the idiosyncrasies of certain towns could mean that there would be exceptions to this. The announcement from the head of the party is in stark contrast to what was said the day after the elections, that they wouldn't necessarily respect the winning parties. "In the municipals, we have never respected the principle of the most-voted-for list," said at the time Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, the leader of one-half of the CiU federation, CDC. Speaking yesterday, the president of CiU in the Catalan parliament, Oriol Pujol, said that that had changed as a result of the past seven years of tripartite government and that now the party wouldn't act in the same way. CDC is uncomfortable at letting the PP candidate in Badalona, Xavier García Albiol, take over the council there, as he is perceived as having adopted a xenophobic position in his attempt to become the town's mayor. With the decision of CiU, the federation has inevitably moved closer to the PP, which is likely to be its only ally in the approval of the Generalitat's budget in the Parliament as well as a necessary partner in the Barcelona diputació.
Heavy rain in Catalunya today could leave more than 20 litres per square metres in some areas, and up to 50 litres in some places according to a warning from the Catalan meteorological office (read article in Catalan here, Avui). This morning, rain is expected to fall across the south, east and north-east of Catalunya, while from mid-day it could fall anywhere across the region. Storms are also expected and there is the possibility of hail. This afternoon, the rain should be heaviest in the counties of Barcelona and Girona, and the centre of Catalunya. While the inclement weather is likely to continue tomorrow, there will be less rain and temperatures will start to rise again. Sunny and warm weather is forecast for the start of next week.