Felipe VI will also go to Barcelona in the act to hand over judicial offices, even if there is still no fixed date. The head of state has gone in recent years except for 2020, when the Spanish government avoided it because it coincided with the publication of the ruling that disqualified the former president Quim Torra. The decision created tension with the president of the General Council of the Judiciary, Carlos Lesmes, who in his speech lamented the monarch's absence. "I have always defended that the head of state has presence in Catalonia in the celebration of important events such as the Mobile World Congress or the hand-over of offices. We believe that the presence of the head of state is important and that it is opportune", he noted. The King's House still has to confirm his attendance.
Sanchez will attend the negotiating table on Wednesday
The Spanish president will hold a meeting beforehand with Aragonès
MadridThe negotiating table will meet on Wednesday and Pedro Sánchez will be in attendance. The president of the Spanish government has announced it in an interview this Monday on TVE, in which he has confirmed that he will "lead" the Spanish government delegation in Barcelona. "I will go," he confirmed. Sánchez already attended the first meeting, which took place on February 26, 2020 at the Moncloa, and the original set-up was that he would attend when there were agreements and when it was especially relevant. The Spanish president has explained that this meeting comes some time after the inaugural meeting and that this justifies his presence.
Sánchez explained that he will meet the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, and then he will meet the two full delegations, implying that he will not participate in the meeting itself. After the announcement, the Catalan government has informed that the first contact between the two presidents will serve to "set the objectives and methodology for the resolution of the political conflict".
Thus, the delegations count six members: the Catalan executive has informed that it will announce its composition soon. Aragonès affirmed that he would be there, but now this could change considering that he and Sánchez will meet before the meeting. On the Catalan side, confirmed ERC delegates are Presidency Minister Laura Vilagrà and Business Minister Roger Torrent. Junts has not given clues on its delegates. The Spanish delegation was made known this weekend: on the one hand the socialists Félix Bolaños (Presidency Minister), Raquel Sánchez (Minister for Transport), Isable Rodríguez (Minister for Territorial Policy) and Miquel Iceta (Minister for Culture and Sports); on the other, Podemos will send the second Vice-President and Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz and the Minister for Universities, Manuel Castells.
"I will make a commitment to dialogue and reunion," said Sanchez, who has ruled out the referendum proposed by the independence movement. "If we all aim for our most ambitious goals, the conversation will be short-lived," he warned. Asked about the path of Article 92 of the Constitution, which provides for a consultative referendum without legal effects, the Socialist leader did not want to give a straight answer and insisted that the goal is that the Catalans vote for an "agreement". The leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, has not been slow to react by interpreting that Sánchez "accepts" the referendum that Aragonès and Puigdemont demand." "It is very serious," he denounced in an interview on Cope, in which he criticised that "it is going too far for a handful of votes"
Prioritising what can lead to agreements
The distance between the players at the dialogue table in relation to the territorial model is well known and Sánchez has opted to prioritise those issues that can arouse understanding. This makes it necessary to divert the debate towards other matters, and this is what the Spanish president has done during the interview. "If there is one thing that unites Catalans, it is overcoming the pandemic, economic recovery and taking advantage of the enormous opportunity of European funds," he said. The head of the Spanish executive called for "starting with the things we can agree on" and considered that the referendum is not what Catalonia "needs", because it means a "fracture".
Sánchez also pointed out that for years Catalan presidents, from Mas to Torra and including Puigdemont, have made 45 points in the form of demands to the Spanish government. "44 had an affirmative answer. One hasn't, which is the referendum", he continued, and insisted on "starting with the things where we may be closer". "I repeat that I believe that the pandemic has changed everything," he said.
One of these issues was the expansion of El Prat airport, which the Spanish government decided to freeze due to the lack of consensus it generated in the Catalan Government. Sanchez has stressed that public statements by Aragonès in which he "disavows" the agreement and the possibility that ministers in the demonstration on 19 September make it unfeasible to maintain the initiative. "Spain is committed to investment in Catalonia," the Spanish president remarked.