The dialogue table on Catalonia, which brings together the central government and the Generalitat, meets this Wednesday for the third time since its inception with the aim of concluding and presenting concrete agreements that work towards the “de-judicial settlement of the political conflict”, a concept whose definition and methods of practical application have so far avoided explaining the two parts. The representatives of both executives will arrive for the meeting, which will take place in La Moncloa from 10:00 a.m., after the pre-agreements have already been finalized and after the meeting held in Madrid in mid-July by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and that of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, in which they dealt with the development and deployment of European funds in Catalonia. Neither President is attending today’s meeting.
The meeting will be attended on behalf of Central Executive Vice President Yolanda Díaz; and the Ministers of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños; Territorial Politics, Isabel Rodríguez, and Culture, Miquel Iceta. The Generalitat is only represented by members of the ERC, as Junts insists on rejecting the terms under which this body, which seeks to end the political conflict between the government and the state, operates. The Advisor to the Presidency, Laura Vilagrà; that of Company, Roger Torrent; Culture, Natàlia Garriga, and Interior, Joan Ignasi Elena.
The meeting comes at a very tense moment between the partners of the Catalan executive, given the decision of the Supreme Court of Catalonia to open an oral procedure against the President of the Parliament, Laura Borràs, for alleged corruption crimes. ERC must decide whether its vote will be used to remove the seat. Junts considers the dialogue table closed and asks to open a new phase dealing with a “real negotiation” with the state.
The launch of the table, which met for the first time in Barcelona last September, was one of the agreements reached by Sánchez and Aragonès when they met on the 15th in La Moncloa. Since then, the celebration of a new meeting had been postponed (it had to be in January of this year), in part because both parties were unable to come up with an in-depth agreement. This is the third meeting of the dialogue table, the second with Aragonès in office: the first took place in Madrid in February 2020 with former President Quim Torra, the second took place in Barcelona on September 15, 2021.
The initial philosophy of the table, agreed upon by the PSOE and ERC in exchange for facilitating the inauguration of Pedro Sánchez, was to face the public only when progress was made. Faced with this lack of content, the new appointment dragged on and the controversies like the scandal surrounding the Pegasus case or the government’s certification of poor budget execution in Catalonia further undermined confidence.
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Both La Moncloa and the government made it clear that there are mature agreements that could be presented at this table, so not enough secrecy is understood to finalize a date until the last minute. The fact that there were still aspects to be clarified is shown by the public pressure on the Republicans in recent days, especially with regard to agreements on the judicial front. Oriol Junqueras, along with other party leaders, has accused the executive of not wanting to reform the penal code, showing an interest in progress in this area.
The starting positions of the government and the government are very far away. In an interview with this newspaper, the finance minister and new number two from the PSOE, María Jesús Montero, recalled on Sunday that negotiating Catalonia’s independence was impossible and that it was not even talked about in the parliamentary scores.
In the case of the so-called “de-judiciary”, the ERC insists that this term is the product of La Moncloa and recalls that it appears as the second point of the so-called Reunion Agenda, the 44-point document that the government wants to channel the dissatisfaction of the citizens of Catalonia. The same sources insist that the government has no semantic problems because this term fits into its proposed amnesty for dozens of high-ranking officials and citizens who have open cases or judgments derived from them process.
The government has already pardoned those convicted by the Supreme Court in a decision criticized by the right-wing opposition and announced an unimplemented reform of the Penal Code to cut penalties for the crime of sedition by half. The central executive now claims that beyond pardons, it is very difficult to define what else it can propose in this section on the premise of acting within the framework of applicable legislation.
The most paradigmatic point of the reform of the penal code, which was already recommended by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, is the reform of the crime of incitement to halve the penalties. It was the crime for which Carles Puigdemont’s former directors of the Generalitat were convicted in a media dispute of embezzlement of public funds. La Moncloa sources already dismissed the possibility of this reform being raised at the dialogue table two weeks ago.