Aragonès and Sánchez agree to convene negotiating table in the last week of July
Spanish government assures they have not addressed the reform of the crime of sedition
MadridNegotiating table will return in the last week of July. This has been agreed by Catalan president Pere Aragonès his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez in the meeting they held this afternoon at the Spanish presidential palace for an hour and three quarters. The two delegations will meet again ten months after the negotiations were resumed, at a meeting at the Palau de la Generalitat on September 15th. That day the two presidents met face to face and, subsequently, the meeting on the dialogue table was held, the first since Aragonès became president of the Generalitat. This time it will be held in Madrid.
Aragonès emphasised after the meeting that the goal is for this round of negotiations to bring "the first partial agreements and concretions in the field of de-judicialisation", but he did not want to specify in which fields work was being done. However, he stressed that "reversing the effects of judicialisation is one of the main goals of the round table, and everything that helps in this sense will be positive". On the table, for example, is the possible reform of the crime of sedition, a measure that would affect political leaders who are currently in exile, such as former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont.
The president did confirm that the two heads of government have coincided in making a positive assessment of the framework agreement for the negotiation agreed by Catalan and Spanish presidency ministers, Laura Vilagrà and Félix Bolaños.
The agreement certifies the resumption of relations between the two governments after weeks of turbulence due to the outbreak of the Catalangate scandal in June. Aragonès demanded a meeting with his Spanish counterpart and it has come three months later. Since the espionage scandal came to light, the two coincided in several events, always in Barcelona, but had not had an in-depth talk. The two met in the Catalan capital on May 6, coinciding with the Cercle d'Economia conference, and on June 27 at a Pimec dinner at the Camp Nou. In between, on June 19, the Andalusian elections were held.
In recent weeks the Spanish Minister for the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, and his Catalan counterpart, Laura Vilagrà, reestablished institutional relations, which had been frozen. They have held three bilateral meetings, two in Barcelona and one in Madrid. The last one was on July 8 at the Palau de la Generalitat, in which the two interlocutors announced the meeting between Sánchez and Aragonès and gave a new opportunity to the negotiating table, which is to be convened twice before the end of the year.
The main difficulty in resuming the table was that it was that some kind of agreement was expected to come of the meetings. The two governments agreed in September to conduct the negotiations with great discretion, although in recent weeks the Generalitat has publicly stated what it is asking of Madrid: to advance in the anti-repressive agenda. In this sense, the possibility of reforming the crime of sedition has once again entered the debate, with ERC opening up to studying the possibility. However, Spanish government spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez has assured that this issue has not been addressed, and neither have the next State budgets. Rodríguez explained that progress has been made and an agreement will be announced after the next meeting, but gave no further details. Sánchez and Aragonès will not participate in the meeting.
For the moment, Sánchez has maintained that the Spanish government does not suggest changing the crime of sedition because it is clear that there is no parliamentary majority which would back it. JxCat, for example, backs suppressing the crime, while the PSOE would like to change the wording of the criminal types and to reduce the penalties. This is a measure that would affect exiles, whose extradition to Spain is currently pending the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling on the European arrest warrants. This Thursday, its Advocate General got the Spanish justice system's hopes up.
Sánchez considers Pegasus spying scandal over
The Pegasus scandal and the admission by the Spanish intelligence services (CNI) that it had hacked into Aragonès's mobile phone when he was vice president brought the relationship between his party, Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), and the Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) to its lowest point. In fact, in retaliation, ERC voted against the first decree of measures against inflation (which was approved anyway) in the Spanish parliament. However, this Thursday ERC voted in favour of the second package which extends measures until December 31 and incorporates new ones. The most important consequence of the espionage case was the dismissal of the former director of the CNI Paz Esteban, even though it was formally due to the security breach detected in the cell phones of Sánchez himself and several Spanish cabinet ministers, who were also spied on using Pegasus. The Spanish government has considered the Pegasus crisis closed and, although it was discussed at the meeting, Rodríguez stated that the Spanish government's position "has not changed".