Political dialogue takes hold between La Moncloa and the Generalitat. After years in which distrust and insubordination on the part of the Catalan authorities have prevailed, since the inauguration of Pere Aragonès as regional president, last May, the territorial conflict is not resolved, but it is channeled through the negotiation. The declarations do not ruin the principles and political aspirations of each one, they all maintain them, but they have set to work to agree on a six-month calendar in which the transfer of new powers to the Generalitat must culminate. Two “frank and honest” hours of meeting, in the words of the Minister of Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodríguez, opened this Monday a new time of dialogue between the central government and that of the Generalitat. After a decade in which the territorial issue and the independence process have monopolized – and vitiated – the relations between the two executives, this Monday the social and economic needs of Catalonia and its citizens returned to the fore.
“We are disappointed because we have not addressed all the transfers that we wanted, although the central government has the opportunity to demonstrate, as the president, Pedro Sánchez, says that it does not want self-determination for Catalonia, but does want self-government,” said Minister Rodríguez, also a spokesperson. of the Executive. Different, but not distant, the vice-president of the Generalitat, Jordi Puigneró, then expressed himself. The meeting of the Government-Generalitat Mixed Commission, the first in three years, held this Monday in Madrid, substantially changes the relationship between the two executives. In addition, there was an announcement off the agenda: joint work to defend and develop the expansion of the El Prat airport. The investment to which Pedro Sánchez’s Cabinet is committed is 1,700 million euros, with the creation of 83,000 direct jobs. The details will arrive this Tuesday by the ministry and the corresponding council, including those that affect the environmental respect of the area.
The central government and the Generalitat had not addressed an imminent transfer of powers for 10 years. In that decade the rupture has only deepened. Now, there is a will to study the 56 transfers required by the Government. “We want you all and soon,” said the Catalan vice president, Jordi Puigneró, from Junts, and the counselor of the presidency, Laura Vilagrà, from Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC). Both showed a demanding attitude, without sparing their initial disappointments, but the Junts politician contributed a greater degree of harshness in some of his assessments.
Maximum match to the Statute
Puigneró takes the word of Pedro Sánchez regarding his repeated acceptance of making the most of the Statute of Catalonia and even outside of it, so that this community acquires the maximum degree of powers. In that autonomist screen there is not the Catalan vice president, who is in the independence movement, but step by step: the first thing is to obtain the powers. The central government is focused on moving forward with “the country project” and the negotiation with Catalonia enters into it. In six months that will to agree will take shape, according to the monthly calendar agreed this Monday in the Ministry of Territorial Policy.
The calendar will seek to specify the transfer of competences in the matter of academic scholarships, of the training models of Medicine students, the competences in Maritime Rescue and in professional training. Vilagrà assured that the transfer of the scholarship competition has already been agreed for the 2022-2023 academic year and that the details remain to be finalized.
Rodríguez announced that coordination commissions will be activated for investments in infrastructures, especially in the commuter rail network. The Minister of Territorial Policy confirmed that the Government would increase the budget of the Generalitat by 200 million euros in 2021, as established by the third additional provision of the Statute of Autonomy. Puigneró criticized these 200 million for “insufficient”, because the State owes 3,800 million euros, according to the Catalan vice president. Puigneró, however, was optimistic about the possibility of transferring responsibilities in the management of commuter services.
The two parties have pledged to “reduce institutional conflict.” Despite this, the Catalan delegation put on the table an issue that the Government had asked to leave off the meeting’s agenda: the demand that the Generalitat jointly manage European funds for economic reconstruction after the covid-19 pandemic . Puigneró regretted that the central executive refuses to dialogue on this issue. “It is incomprehensible that the Government of Spain, which talks so much about the reunion agenda, does not put on the table a bilateral negotiation of European funds.”
Indeed, the Government does not give in to discuss the distribution and management of European funds in the joint committee, no matter how much its interlocutors demand it. That chapter goes down another channel. According to the counselor of the presidency.
The five agreed sections are convenient for both. The first is to reduce institutional conflict, which translates into unconstitutional appeals in both directions. They also include the transfer of scholarships; the study of other “viable” transfers —this apostille is provided by the central government— and the reactivation of the economic and fiscal affairs commission, in addition to the infrastructure commission. All concrete and without touching symbols, identity or self-determination. The Catalan government wants to talk about this with the central government in the meeting next September, where it will again demand a referendum on self-determination. Nothing that is not in the Constitution, advances the central Executive. That, for September.