The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, delivered his first speech to Parliament on Tuesday in a general policy debate, which opens the political course. The head of the Republican Government has made a closed defense of the dialogue process that he has begun with the central government and has asked his pro-independence partners not to lose “the train of negotiation.” A table that Aragonès assumes will be “attacked from both sides” and that it will not be “neither simple nor fast”, but of which he has said that it is an opportunity that Catalonia had never had and that it should know how to take advantage of.
“Let us not despise what we have achieved: bring Spain to a negotiating table and begin to address the political conflict from mutual recognition as political subjects,” stressed Aragonès, who has also referred to the misgivings of his Junts partners to this space and also its absence. “Everything we do from the Catalan delegation should be designed to strengthen its position. The opposite is to weaken Catalonia in one of the most complex situations that we have to face. And no one should contribute to weaken Catalonia with their actions, consciously or unconsciously”, the one of Esquerra has remarked.
Next, Aragonès also spoke about the part that sits in front of the Generalitat at the table. The temptation of the PSOE, he said, is “to try to put the process to sleep, divide ourselves and make the minimum possible concessions, or worse, publicly hang up with proposals that have not been worked on in the negotiation and that they will want to distract from the bottom of the political conflict, as has already been done. last”. In this sense, the chief executive has considered the “skepticism” of many independentistas towards the negotiation process justified, both due to the antecedents and the difficulty of the independence challenge.
“If the State does not take advantage of this negotiation process, it may end up showing in the eyes of those who look at it from the outside – and from within – that it has no will to make a proposal for a political solution in Catalonia,” he assured. According to this reasoning, the independence movement will accumulate reasons in the face of the international community if the State “is not capable of controlling its apparatus and the persecution against the independence movement continues.”
Along the same lines, Aragonès has warned that the first step in the dialogue process must be the “end of the repression.” “It is evident that actions such as that of last week with the arrest of President Puigdemont, the Court of Accounts or the prosecution of Tamara Carrasco, do not help the process of resolution of the political conflict at all.” “They do not contribute to generating the conditions that favor trust between the parties,” he said, “and if we are not capable of generating the conditions, it will be very difficult to sit down and talk and negotiate about anything.”
Improve “the day to day” of the Catalans
Along with the plea in favor of the negotiating table, Aragonès has therefore at the same level the obligation to improve “the daily life of citizens.” A task, he said, that his new Government has already started in just over 100 days. “We have laid the foundations to promote a recovery for all and with the sole objective of improving the lives of citizens,” he said. A “shake” to the country on which he has given three examples: the announcement of the free school from 0 to 3 years from next year, a new decree on renewable energy for a “just” energy transition and, finally, Budgets that will increase 3.5 billion in spending compared to 2020, which means an increase of more than 10%.
The ERC leader wants social protection to be one of the hallmarks of his Government, even more so after a time in which “inequalities have skyrocketed” and the poverty rate “reached its highest point on last year”. Aragonès has recalled or announced the figures of the social rescue plan contained in the government program approved last week. To begin with, the additional 5,000 million allocated to public health, reach 1,000 million euros in housing policies or increase 140 million in guaranteed income. Along the same lines, the start-up of the office for the pilot plan for basic income has been highlighted, a point negotiated with the CUP, or the largest shock plan in history for the occupation, endowed with 900 million, according to what has been shelled .
Aragonès has also dedicated time during his speech to economic change from a green perspective. “We want to transform the Catalan production model and we have a great opportunity to do so with the help of European Next Generation funds,” he said. As he has said, Catalonia has 13 mature projects for industrial and mobility uses of renewable hydrogen and another 30 R + D + i projects, to which must be added the change in the automotive industry, focused on the electric vehicle .
Regarding this, Aragonès has tiptoed over the announcement made by the Government and the Volkswagen group announced last July a project to establish a battery factory in Spain to provide service, among others, to the Seat plant in Martorell, although without confirming the options for him to stay in Catalonia. The head of the Government has not said anything about this issue, but has assured that the Generalitat is “fully committed to the different Next Generation projects related to the electric vehicle to confront this absolutely disruptive change with guarantees”.
On the other hand, he has referred to the distribution of European funds and the null participation of the Generalitat in decisions on them. A commitment that last year Aragonès claimed to have obtained from the Government in exchange for its support to the budgets but which, as he has said, Pedro Sánchez has not fulfilled. “The Spanish Government, far from following this path, has pushed for the law by presenting to the Commission a recovery plan that corners the Government. In fact, in the plans it presented in Brussels it did not even mention the rest of the governments with powers to manage these resources, “he assured.
In economic matters, Aragonès has also referred to the Catalan airport model and the failed project of the expansion of El Prat, after this Tuesday the central government approved the Airport Planning Document that leaves out the investments to renovate the Barcelona air base and it does foresee a wide unfolding in Madrid Barajas. “I regret that the position of the Government has been to place an ultimatum on the future Catalan airport, thus preventing the future of the airports of Catalonia from being specified in a consensual manner between all the administrations of the country,” he said. Despite this, Aragonès has ensured that they will continue to work “their own model”, for which they demand the transfer of the management of the three major Catalan airports, Barcelona-El Prat, Reus and Girona.
The pandemic, still a central issue for the Government
Aragonès has delivered a speech very focused on implying that Catalonia has launched a new political stage, with a leading role in social recovery and economic reconstruction after the pandemic. However, the president has not yet considered the COVID crisis over, a virus that he has said continues to focus the efforts of the Catalan Executive. In this sense, the independence leader has recognized management errors, such as that the Government thought that vaccination would go faster due to the numbers it had at the beginning of the summer, or that the fifth wave caught them “on the wrong foot” and that if they had had models that warned them of the virulence of the Delta variant, would have maintained the restrictions in July.
However, Aragonès has assured that Catalonia is overcoming the last wave, with figures that allow the Government to continue de-escalation of restrictions. For this reason, he said, last week the reopening of outdoor nightlife was allowed until 3 in the morning and, now, we are working with the horizon of being able to open the outdoor spaces soon. Always, he has said, using the COVID certificate when necessary.
These measures of relaxation of the restrictions are news that Aragonès has wanted to exhibit as positive, but the head of the Government has also wanted to remain prudent. “The pandemic is not over, right now we cannot rule out a sixth wave,” he said. For this reason, Aragonès has taken advantage of his intervention to highlight the importance of vaccination. “It is essential to increase the percentage of the vaccinated population among those between 12 and 39 years old. And I would like to address you directly: if you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for your grandmother, your friend, your parents or your brothers. This is not going to save you, it is going to protect us all, “he said.