The Government of Spain and the Generalitat of Catalonia come to the dialogue table with different agendas. But with the conviction (and the need) of Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès that this body that runs outside the ordinary institutional channels cannot fail. From there the distance is still great. But tomorrow a reinforcement of the link between the Government and not the entire Government is expected, but at least the part that ERC represents. Many issues will be addressed, but for both parties the fundamental thing is that the meeting be held and that its continuity be agreed.
Pere Aragonès’s team contemplated this afternoon that the meeting between the Catalan president and
Pedro Sánchez, on Wednesday morning, would last for an hour, and the subsequent one with the councilors and ministers, the dialogue table as such, would last another three hours. The forecasts in Palau therefore anticipate a meeting with content, nothing to do with the ‘brief’ meeting, which is pending, which Minister Miquel Iceta predicts if the Catalan side insists and limits itself to talking about amnesty and self-determination.
The presidents are expected to make some kind of statement after their private meeting. And at the end of the afternoon, after the table, the agreements reached will be communicated. But tomorrow nothing is expected beyond agreeing on the methodology of how to continue this forum. In successive meetings the presidents will no longer have to always be there. After the February 2020 meeting, a monthly meeting was agreed. And a delegation of each party was constituted. On the part of the Government of Spain, Félix Bolaños, Minister of the Presidency, will be the person who will coordinate the work.
-The inalienable points by the Government
The agenda for this afternoon’s meeting has not been made public, but the inalienable will of the representatives of the Generalitat to put precisely those points on the table. There is fear on the part of ERC, a well-founded fear given the pressure from the Junts and the most irredeemable independence movement, that the Government will try to turn the dialogue table into a mere extension of the bilateral commission that was retaken on August 2, and from there For example, the veto to address the controversy over the blocking of investment in El Prat in tomorrow’s forum.
-Table of dialogue, or negotiation
On the Catalan side, and as recognized in the investiture pact between ERC and the PSOE in which it is embodied, the dialogue table is created to address solutions to a conflict that is ‘political’ in nature. Everything that is to reduce this political content with technical issues is seen in ERC as an attempt to denature it. The concept of ‘dialogue table’ has made a fortune, although ERC has tried to rename it as ‘negotiation table’.
Sitting is already a victory
On the part of the Generalitat, in the same way that it is assumed that there are inalienable points, it is also assumed in a pragmatic way that they will hardly be satisfied. For the Generalitat, now only represented by members of ERC, the table itself is already a victory, the first time, they celebrate, that the Government agrees to negotiate a solution to the conflict in Catalonia. The claim in ERC is to propose a long-term dialogue, a way in reality to continue to be queasy, to recognize that their demands are as inalienable as they are chimerical. What it is about is to last.
Sánchez maintains his proposal
The Government is betting everything on the so-called “Reunion Agenda.” It is a document that the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, transferred to Quim Torra on February 6, 2020 at the meeting that both held in Barcelona. Government sources today claim that text as their proposal for Catalonia. It is dealt with in a 44-point document prepared by La Moncloa that collects 44 of the 45 points that former presidents Artur Mas, Carles Puigdemont and Quim Torra sent to Mariano Rajoy and Pedro Sánchez himself. The Government asserts that of these 45 demands, the only unacceptable one is the self-determination referendum and, therefore, it does not include it in its document. But he was committed and continues to do so to address the rest. These are some of the highlights:
1) POLITICAL DIALOGUE AND INSTITUTIONAL REGENERATION
-Open channels of negotiation and dialogue on the future of Catalonia.
«The Government of Spain and that of the Generalitat of Catalonia will begin the political dialogue in February at the constitutive meeting of the Roundtable for Dialogue, Negotiation and Agreement, which aims to seek political solutions that reflect the interests of a vast majority of Catalans ».
– Boost to democratic regeneration.
The Government claims that its project “includes measures related to institutional regeneration such as the abolition of qualifications for political office, a National Plan against Corruption and the renewal of constitutional bodies and independent bodies.” But at the moment none of these measures have crystallized.
-Commitment to democratic memory.
«The Government of Spain has a firm commitment to democratic memory, which currently holds the rank of vice-presidency. The dictator’s remains no longer rest in a state mausoleum. There is a commitment to exhume the reprisals who rest in mass graves, to pay tribute to the victims of the dictatorship and to annul their sentences and sanctions, such as that of the former president of the Generalitat, Lluís Companys.
2) AUTONOMOUS FINANCING
-Reform of the Autonomous Financing System.
«The objective is to implement a system that has the participation of the territories, and that allows to guarantee the loyalty and solidarity between territories and the equality of all Spaniards, at the same time as ensuring the fair distribution of public resources and the capacity to the Autonomous Communities to provide the services and social benefits that are within their competence ”.
-Fulfillment of investment commitments.
At this point, the Government embodied the commitment that the 2020 Budget project “complies with the provisions contained in the Statute of Autonomy on investment of the General State Administration.” The Executive contemplates maintaining that commitment in a structural way.
-Financial and tax autonomy of Catalonia.
The Government undertakes to study “the tax proposals of the Generalitat in the Council for Fiscal and Financial Policy with a view to drawing up the new Autonomous Financing System.”
3) IMPROVING COOPERATION
-Impulse the Generalitat-State Bilateral Commission and demands for transfers and statutory developments
This is how this commitment was worded in the document in February 2020: “There is total availability for dialogue. Pending specifics on transfer demands, it is considered that there may be short-term progress in terms of scholarships, compensation for new judicial positions and administrative claims ”. This happened a few weeks before the lockdown caused by the pandemic. At the end of July, after the change of government, there was already a meeting of this body.
-Coordination in matters of foreign action.
Here the Government showed its willingness to agree, but objected to the precedents of how the Generalitat used its powers in foreign matters. “YES, with nuances,” said the Government on this matter: “The Generalitat’s delegations abroad must comply with the principles contained in the State’s Foreign Action and Service Law.”
-VAT deductible from the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation.
The Government is not convinced of this question, but does not close the door: «Open to negotiation. It can be part of the debate within the framework of the Generalitat – State Bilateral Commission «.
-Multiplex of the Catalan Audiovisual Media Corporation.
«Open to negotiation. You can be part of the debate within the framework of the Generalitat – State Bilateral Commission »
-Support for the 2030 Winter Olympics.
At that time the Government was ambiguous: «Open to study. It must be an initiative under the leadership of the Spanish Olympic Committee with the incorporation of other autonomous communities ». But that issue has now been resolved and the government has recently expressed its support.
4) SOCIAL POLICY AND SUPPORT TO PUBLIC SERVICES
-Law of education.
The Government has already complied: “The new Education Law will contain the regulations that affect the Catalan school model.”
-Autonomous management of 0.7% of personal income tax for social purposes.
«Open to negotiation. It can be approached in the Generalitat-State Bilateral Commission ».
-Financing of the Mossos d’Esquadra
In September 2018, the payment of compensation for the increase in the Mossos d’Esquadra staff was already agreed. The Government has committed to maintaining this compensation in the Budgets until 2022.
5) BOOSTING INFRASTRUCTURES
-Improving investment in railway matters.
The Government of Spain has no problem with this point.
-Support for airport activity.
The appointment is reached with the recent conflict in El Prat that has made it impossible to close the agreement. This was a point that the Government identified as feasible: “It is planned to invest in the El Prat airport (more than 1,500 million euros in the coming years), in the new Airport City and update the master plans of the Catalan airports” .