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Catalan nationalists have reached a final agreement and an independence vote will be organised in 2014

The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) have reached a definitive agreement ensuring the next Catalan Government parliamentary stability to approve the main laws. The CiU leader Artur Mas will be re-elected President of the Catalan Government with the ERC’s vote in the Catalan Parliament by the end of the week. However, the ERC will not sit in the Cabinet and will only offer support on the agreed issues. The last point blocking the agreement was the CiU’s refusal to set a specific date for a self-determination referendum. Finally, they have agreed on calling for a citizen vote on Catalonia’s independence from Spain in 2014. However, the CiU has managed to include a clause postponing the voting call if both parties explicitly agree to do so.

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18 December 2012 11:49 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- After three weeks of intense negotiation, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) have reached a definitive agreement ensuring parliamentary stability for the next Catalan Government in order to approve the main laws. Accordingly, the CiU\u2019s leader Artur Mas will be re-elected President of the Catalan Government with the ERC\u2019s vote in the Catalan Parliament by the end of the week. However, the ERC will not sit in the Cabinet and will only offer support on the agreed issues. The last point blocking the agreement was the CiU\u2019s refusal to set a specific date for a self-determination referendum. Finally, Mas and the ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras, met on Tuesday evening and have agreed to call for a citizen vote on Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain in 2014. However, the CiU has managed to include a clause postponing the voting call if both parties explicitly agree to do so. According to the agreement, in the first half of 2013, negotiations with the Spanish Government will take place for organising such a vote. If, as expected, the answer is negative, before 2014 Catalonia will approve its own law on citizen votes, following the Catalan Statute of Autonomy that foresees this possibility. The agreement also includes the modification of taxation in order to increase revenues by \u20AC1 billion in 2013 to reduce the Catalan Government\u2019s deficit. Mas and Junqueras will sign the agreement on Wednesday in the Catalan Parliament. On Thursday and Friday, the debate to elect the President of the Catalan Government will be held, as announced this evening by Núria de Gispert, President of the Catalan Parliament. This means that the new Catalan Government would be sworn into office by next week: Mas on Monday the 24th and the Catalan Ministers on Thursday the 27th. The CiU has 50 MPs and the ERC, which is the second largest group, has 21 MPs in the 135-seat Catalan Parliament. Therefore, together they have an absolute majority. Both of them ran in the recent Catalan elections with the promise of organising an independence referendum within the next term.


The Acting President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and the President of the ERC, Oriol Junqueras, reached a parliamentary stability agreement on Tuesday evening that includes the celebration of a citizen \u201Cconsultation\u201D in 2014 on Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain. However, if the socio-economic and political contexts mean that they are advised to delay it, they could postpone the call for the citizen vote if both parties explicitly agreed on doing so. In addition, the date for the \u201Cconsultation\u201D \u2013 they call it this way as Spanish Government is the only one able to authorise \u201Creferendums\u201D in Spain \u2013 will be agreed on by the two parties.

Mas and Junqueras have ended all the negotiations between the CiU and the ERC with \u201Ca total\u201D agreement, after meeting for one hour in the Palace of the Catalan Government. The first part of the agreement is focused on Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process. It draws a scenario split into deadlines and episodes, corresponding to different phases of the process. The first one will be approved in the Catalan Parliament\u2019s first ordinary plenary session, a \u2018Declaration of the Sovereignty of the People of Catalonia\u2019, fixing the Parliament\u2019s commitment to the right to self-determination. The second step will be to approve a Catalan law on citizen votes, following the work already started in the last legislative term. The law should begin these parliamentary steps by late January 2013. In addition, a Catalan Council for the National Transition will be created as a body to foster and coordinate the self-determination process, as well as to enable participation from civil society and to assess the Catalan Government. In parallel, negotiations with the Spanish Government will be set up, if Madrid does not completely close the door on Catalonia.

The main step is the commitment to call for the citizen vote. The CiU and the ERC have engaged themselves in \u201Cdeveloping all the formal, legal and institutional procedures possible until the 31st of December 2013 to be ready, from that moment, to call for the consultation in line with the legal framework in place and within a year\u2019s time\u201D. In addition, they have included a clause postponing it if \u201Cthe socio-economic and political context require a delay\u201D. However, the voting date will be agreed on \u201Cby at least the two signing parts\u201D, meaning the CiU and the ERC. This scheme coincides with the project presented by the ERC during the electoral campaign.

The fiscal side of the agreement

The other main part of the agreement is the one referring to the economic measures to be adopted to reduce the Catalan Government\u2019s deficit. Mas and Junqueras have closed the final points under discussion, in particular the one referring to the Inheritance Tax, which the CiU almost eliminated in early 2011. The ERC wanted not only to restore the tax to previous levels but also to increase it. Finally, they have agreed to fix it at the public revenue levels generated in 2010, by taxing those who are the wealthiest. It will not have a retroactive effect and it will be in place in early 2013.

Besides the tax on bank deposits approved on Tuesday by the Catalan Government, the agreement includes taxes on empty flats, carbon dioxide emissions and nuclear energy. The agreement also has a tax on beverages with an excess of sugar and another one on plastic packaging. A fee for heavy road transportation will also be created. In addition, large commercial centres will also have to pay a higher tax rate. Finally, the Tax on Wealth will have its exemption base lowered from \u20AC700,000 to \u20AC500,000. In total, the new and modified taxes and fees will generate \u20AC1 billion of additional revenue in 2013.

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  • Oriol Junqueras (left) and Francesc Homs, Artur Mas' right-hand man, on Tuesday evening (by A. Moldes)

  • Oriol Junqueras (left) and Francesc Homs, Artur Mas' right-hand man, on Tuesday evening (by A. Moldes)