Tuesday, May 17

The Government achieves ‘in extremis’ an agreement with ERC to save the Housing Law

After negotiating until the last minute, practically until the vote on the amendments to the entirety this Thursday, ERC has achieved a commitment from the Government parties that will allow not to drop the Housing Law, one of the most important regulations of the legislature . The 13 seats of the Republicans were decisive so that the Plenary Session of Congress did not overthrow the law of the Executive in a vote that Moncloa already anticipated tight.

The Housing Law faces its first vote in Congress with the Government partners divided

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Finally, the Minister of Housing, Raquel Sánchez, has assured that there will be an explicit commitment from Moncloa to fix the competence issue, the main discrepancy of the Republicans, during the processing of the norm, and ERC has confirmed to elDiario.es that it has achieved an agreement not to knock it down, so the text will continue its parliamentary process. This does not mean, Republican sources point out, that they will later vote ‘yes’ on the law, when it goes to plenary again, if it does not meet their expectations.

“They have our commitment that the text will be respectful of the exclusive competence in housing that the autonomous communities have”, Raquel Sánchez assured during the plenary session. In statements to the press, Sánchez had previously stated that the Government has been “talking and negotiating for days” and they have promised that this law, “as it cannot be otherwise, respects the autonomous powers.”

The Republicans, like the PNV, limited their amendment to this area of ​​competence since, as their alternative text recalled, “all the autonomous communities have assumed in their statutes of autonomy, without exception, full competence in housing matters.”

Other government partners such as EH Bildu, Compromís and Más País gave Pedro Sánchez’s team some oxygen on Tuesday by announcing that they were going to vote against these amendments in their entirety. But from the Executive parties they feared that this support would not be enough and that in the Plenary a new situation of parliamentary weakness could be evidenced, such as the one seen in the vote on the labor reform, which was approved by a single vote, after the error of the PP deputy Alberto Casero.

This state law “for the right to housing” to which the Government gave the green light just a month ago had already had to be delayed for several weeks due to discrepancies that occurred within the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) at the time of prepare the report on the standard, which is mandatory but not binding. Initially, the highest body of the judges prepared a favorable draft, but it did not have the majority support of the magistrates. Later, a second report was prepared, which was approved and which was against the Executive’s law.

Despite this rejection, the Government passed the law, the first to regulate this matter in more than forty years of democracy. Housing regulation, measures to curb rental prices and put a stop to the practices of large holders (owners) were among the objectives of the coalition government agreement signed between PSOE and United We Can in 2019.

The text of the pact already included points that appear in the law that now reaches Congress, such as the existence of stressed areas with skyrocketing rents, the need to launch a price index to mitigate these increases, or measures to regulate evictions. However, the negotiations between both formations have been long, mainly between the two ministries that sign the text: that of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, headed by the socialist Raquel Sánchez; and that of Social Rights and Agenda 2030, headed by the leader of Podemos, Ione Belarra.

The confederal formation, like government partners such as ERC and EH Bildu, always wanted the text to be more ambitious and to explicitly limit rental prices, as demanded by the groups that fight for the right to housing and against evictions. Finally, the law does contemplate price control, although it is limited to large holders and in stressed areas, those areas where prices have grown excessively in recent years. It also contemplates expanding the supply of housing by putting empty flats on the market, includes measures related to evictions and urges the promotion of affordable housing.