Aragonès and Sánchez agree to reactivate dialogue table in Barcelona in September

They will also reactivate the bilateral commission between Catalan and Spanish administrations in July

3 min

MadridThe new stage of thaw between the Generalitat and the State has begun this Tuesday in Madrid with a tangible agreement: the table of dialogue on the Catalan political conflict will be reactivated in the third week of September with a meeting in Barcelona. This has been agreed by the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, and the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, at the meeting they held at the Moncloa. This negotiating table, agreed at the time by ERC and PSOE, had only met once more than a year ago: on February 26, 2020, and had been cornered since then. For the Catalan president, the reactivation of this instrument is "the best confirmation that all parties are giving dialogue, negotiation and politics a chance".

The meeting at the Moncloa between the presidents lasted two and a half hours. This time the two governments wanted to show less solemnity and get down to work. There has been no stroll through the gardens as in the meeting of the 2020 dialogue table, nor the exchange of gifts of previous occasions. Aragonès got out of the car, greeted Sánchez and went inside. To put it in context, the two governments still have no agreement to present beyond the date of the next meeting of the dialogue table, but the government's reaction to today's meeting has not been the "it hasn't gone well" uttered by Catalan presidents Mas in 2012 or Puigdemont in 2016, after they met then Spanish president Mariano Rajoy. For Aragonès, "the positions are far apart and the differences on how to resolve the political conflict are evident", but there is room, at least, to continue talking. Without great fireworks, the picture today is that there is room for manoeuvre.

On what will be the second table of dialogue there were few more specifics: there will be parity between the two parties, but it has not been clarified whether he and Sánchez will be present nor, for example, whether the Generalitat would be in favour of former political prisoners, such as the president of ERC Oriol Junqueras, to be present. They have decided that their respective teams get to work and agree on a "methodology". They have until September 13, 14 or 15, which is when the meeting is expected to take place. Catalan Government sources make a positive reading of the meeting, although they admit that the negotiations will not be easy: "The positions are what they are but we all want to get started". Aragonès himself has also admitted the complexity in his appearance from the Blanquerna Cultural Center: "It will be the most complex and difficult negotiation that the Generalitat will have completed in its contemporary history". In large part because the Catalan delegation will be defending amnesty and self-determination, two elements that the PSOE does not want to hear or talk about.

Bilateral talks in July

The dialogue table will not be the only table between the two governments. The two presidents have also decided to schedule bilateral commissions State-Generalitat for July. In this area Aragonès wants to negotiate the sectorial questions such as investments, State debt with the Catalan administration or European post-pandemic funds. That is to say, he wants to differentiate that the dialogue table is to solve the political conflict and that the bilateral ones serve to demand the transfer of the airport, to give an example that today Aragonès has not mentioned, but that he stated as a goal recently in front of the business community.

De-judicialise the conflict

The other big topic of the meeting has been Aragonès's demand to de-judicialise the conflict because he considers that, while cases such as that of the Court of Auditors continue, it will be impossible to find a negotiated solution to the political conflict. The president has told Sánchez that he would have to apply the recent report of the Council of Europe, which calls for the withdrawal of the Euro-orders - for the return of the exiles - and criticised the cases against low ranking Generalitat officials, such as the one open at Barcelona Court no. 13. Aragonès, aware that the topic is a sticky wicket for the Spanish government - as it tends to infuriate the right - has not spoken of concrete measures, but has suggested Sánchez is open to talking.