Catalan independence 'no threat' to foreign investment
Head of government’s German delegation tells Catalan News that figures show investor confidence in Catalonia abroad, but warns no state will speak up for independence without tangible results
German companies are confident about Catalonia’s economic viability, says the Catalan government representative to Germany, Marie Kapretz. Last year, for example, Volkswagen made a commitment to invest €3 billion euros in the Seat plant in Martorell over the next five years. “This is good news, because it guarantees jobs, prosperity and sustainability,” Kapretz told CNA. According to the delegate, it shows that the unionist fear campaign against Catalan independence - “Don’t invest in Catalonia” - is not working abroad. Yet, Kapretz, who is originally from Berlin, also insists there will be no official reaction from any state government in Europe until there are some tangible results in Catalonia. “No state will speak up for Catalonia,” she said, although she did say that increasingly more Germans see Spain as a different kind of democracy.
“In my opinion, Catalonia’s behavior has to be perfect. There is no room for shows of strength and the rules of democracy have to be followed at all costs, which is what Catalonia is doing,” Kapretz said. At the same time, she maintained that there is uncertainty about Europe as a club of states, and this has always been a difficulty for the Catalan process. Kapretz pointed out that Spanish president Mariano Rajoy has received support from German chancellor Angela Merkel on a number of occasions: “All the states are allies and faithful to their political families. Nobody will make a positive gesture towards Catalonia. It will not become an urgent issue until things start to happen”,she added. Yet, Kapretz thinks the fact that the heads of many states have not taken any position on the matter is in itself positive.
Meanwhile, the lack of proposals for a political solution from the Spanish executive has come as a surprise in Germany, where debate and compromise are well-established. With respect to some comments by Spanish experts who have compared Spain to Germany, Kapretz said that German academics clearly consider Spain to have a different territorial model. “For example, in Spain the central government representative is sent to the Autonomous Region, while in Germany the federated states send their representatives to the federal capital in order to defend their interests. Besides this, these representatives are members of the Bundesrat (Federal Council) that works with the Bundestag (national parliament) and have a say in questions concerning the federated states, providing them with direct central control. “The approach to the question is different – it’s bottom up and not the other way round,” she pointed out.
“Germany is a country with a great need for stability. Catalonia also wants stability, therefore, we share the same interest"
Marie Kapretz · Delegate of the Catalan Government to Germany
And what role could the 500 German companies installed in Catalonia play in the case of independence? “What the vast majority of German companies want is for their facilities in Catalonia to work and for Catalonia to stay part of the Euro,” Kapretz said, explaining that the numbers for foreign exports and investments in Catalonia speak for themselves. Catalonia has broken export records for the sixth consecutive year and investment in the country is increasing. In 2016, 4,000 jobs were created thanks to foreign investment. “With the numbers on the table, together with investment commitments from companies like Volkswagen or Nestlé, which is not German but has a big plant in Girona and is committed to investing, it shows that the predictions of catastrophe do not hold up.”
Kapretz went on to explain that Germany is particularly skeptical towards change. “It is a country with a great need for stability. Catalonia also wants stability, therefore, we share the same interest. Catalonia wants to be a prosperous country that is based on the social market economy. This is something Germany can understand,” she said.
Regarding the diplomatic effort, the representative detailed some of the most important recent agreements. “This year we are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Baden Württemberg Four Motors for Europe agreement with Catalonia. It is a very important agreement with one of the richest regions in the world that has a mentality similar to the Catalan one,” she said, also referencing the bilateral MoU agreement with Bavaria, which Catalonia joined in 2015.