Vilagrà will preside over the Catalan part of the Generalitat-State Commission

The former delegate in Madrid, Gorka Knörr, will be the Government's representative to the European Union

3 min
Laura Vilagrà in an archive image

BarcelonaWith the new stage of relations opened between the government of Catalonia and the Spanish government, there will be two key spaces in this legislature: the table of dialogue - to which the independentism wants to take the resolution of the political conflict - and the Bilateral Commission Generalitat-State. According to government sources, this last commission, that has to be renewed this Tuesday through a government agreement, will be presided by the Minister of Presidency, Laura Vilagrà, in addition to including the vice-president, Jordi Puigneró; the Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró; the General Secretary of Presidency, Núria Cuenca; the General Secretary of vice-presidency, Ricard Font, and the delegate in Madrid, Ester Capella. This appointment coincides with a first important appointment in terms of the relationship with the State: the first meeting between the President Pere Aragonès and the Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, in Madrid.

The Generalitat-State Commission is a permanent body of cooperation between the Spanish government and the Generalitat, provided for in the Statute. It is within this framework that the law provides for addressing issues of self-government or jurisdiction issues that may conflict with the State. In the last legislature, however, it only met once: on August 1st, 2018, when it was chaired by the Republican Ernest Margall as Minister of Foreign Affairs. No specific agreements were reached beyond setting up all the joint commissions provided for in the Statute: the Joint Commission on Transfers, the Commission on Economic and Fiscal Affairs and Infrastructure, as well as the four sub-commissions of the Bilateral Commission. The most active of this last stage has so far been that of Regulatory Monitoring, Conflict Prevention and Resolution, which is where an attempt has been made to reduce the conflict of competences in the Constitutional Court.

With Vilagrà's presidency of the Generalitat-State Bilateral Commission, the Minister of the Presidency will focus all the attributions of the institutional relations of the Government. It is necessary to see if, during this mandate, the new stage with the Spanish government is translated in the reactivation of the agreements in the mixed commissions.

Appointment of Foreign Affairs

That of the Generalitat-State Commission is not the only appointment planned imminently. It is also expected that the Government will designate Gorka Knörr as the delegate of the Generalitat to the European Union, who in the previous legislature was the delegate in Madrid. This will also be a key place for the Government, since it has the challenge of re-oiling relations with the European institutions, which were affected after October 2017. Until now, the person who held this position was Meritxell Serret, a former exiled councilor and now a deputy for Esquerra, but she left it when she decided to return to Catalonia to appear before the Supreme Court.

Gorka Knörr in a picture from April in Brussels

Knörr was born in Tarragona, but first made a political career in the Basque Country. He was linked to the PNB and later to Eusko Alkartasuna, a party of which he was the general secretary from 1998 to 2004. In fact, as a representative of this party he was part of the Basque Parliament as vice-president and was disqualified for disobedience along with the President, Juan María Atutxa (PNB), and the first secretary, Kontxi Bilbao (IU), for refusing to dissolve the Sozialista Abertzaleak (SA) group, after the outlawing of Batasuna in 2003. The European Court of Human Rights subsequently condemned Spain for failing to guarantee them a fair trial and the Supreme Court had to overturn the conviction.

Knörr's link to Catalan politics came in 2019 with the addition to the list of the former President Carles Puigdemont in the European elections, where he came fifth. A few months later he was appointed as delegate of the Generalitat in Madrid during the presidency of Quim Torra.