Independence camp takes control of Barcelona's Chamber of Commerce for first time

Businessman Joan Canadell asks big firms to respect right to self-determination in first speech after taking office in trade institution

The newly elected president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Joan Canadell. (Photo: Lluís Sibils)
The newly elected president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Joan Canadell. (Photo: Lluís Sibils) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 17, 2019 03:23 PM

The pro-independence businessman Joan Canadell has been elected as president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce after a landslide victory for his group in the business institution.

Canadell promised to be "inclusive" and called on politicians and the Catalan government for "unity and dialogue" as the "keys to success" in his inauguration speech.

"You need to clearly explain to every corner of the country why you consider a state is required and how this will affect the lives of the current generation of Catalans and especially those of future generations," he added in a message to the independence camp.

He also called on the big firms joining the chamber to respect the right to self-determination of Catalonia, even if they are against a Catalan Republic. 

The Barcelona Chamber of Commerce is an organization that brings enterprises from all sectors of economic activity together, to stimulate growth, provide services and support, and defend business interests.

The pro-independence leader was officially confirmed president of the chamber on Monday with 36 votes in favor, and 18 left blank.

Shift in direction

With a president in favor of Catalan independence now named as president for the first time, the group is bracing for a shift in direction, as the Chamber of Commerce has traditionally been led by unionist, conservative businessmen.

The newly-elected president said that the economic organization will see a “180-degree turn” in their operations upon the election of the candidate backed by the pro-independence civic group Catalan National Assembly.

According to Canadell, Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce will no longer "look to Madrid, the IBEX-35 [Spain’s stock market]."

"What if the Catalan businesspeople decided that, if fiscal sovereignty is needed, it has to be done? This is very important, and we can propose it, only the Chamber can propose it," added Canadell after last month’s election.

First actions as president

On the measures that he wishes to put in place, Canadell mentioned on Monday improving the financing of the chamber as one of his priorities, so that it is at the level of those of other regions of Europe, such as Milan.

Canadell also wants greater democratization of the entity and a correction of the census, which currently does not include many companies and freelancers, according to the new president.

The implementation of a system of inquiries to ask the opinion of entrepreneurs was also mentioned as one of the first measures.