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Catalan presidency minister to meet Spanish counterpart with lack of investment as central discussion

Laura Vilagrà to question Félix Bolaños in Madrid over why spending targets are not being met

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21 June 2022 12:12 PM

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ACN | Madrid

The Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, will meet with her Spanish counterpart, Félix Bolaños, in Madrid on Wednesday, the Catalan News Agency (ACN) reports. The Catalan minister will bring a list showcasing the lack of investment in Catalonia compared to that promised by the Spanish government.

During the meeting, Vilagrà will also question Bolaños on what proposals will be made to recover the majority in Congress that allowed for Pedro Sánchez to become Spanish prime minister. 

The meeting follows the one held in the Catalan parliament headquarters on April 24, after the Catalangate espionage case was reported. The government hopes the Spanish cabinet restart negotiations, after the Andalusian regional elections which took place Sunday, June 19.

Sources confirmed to ACN that the meeting will also serve to tackle the "blocked" impasse the two executives find themselves in. After the use of Pegasus spyware and "several other recent things," the relationship between the two "has deteriorated even more," these sources say.

Indeed, a few days after the espionage case began to hit the headlines, the Catalan leader, Pere Aragonès, announced that his cabinet’s relationship with Madrid was frozen until Catalangate was clarified.

Vilagrà will speak with her Spanish counterpart to make sure that an espionage case such as Catalangate does not happen again. They will also talk about "repression" but the meeting "is not a return to normality." 

The Spanish government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, confirmed the meeting for Wednesday and call it "good news" to restart the dialogue between both cabinets. 

"Normality in institutions and dialogue with all the territories, including Catalonia, is the plan of the Spanish government," she said. However, Rodríguez did not say if the meeting will be used to set up a date for a potential meeting between the Spanish PM, Pedro Sánchez, and the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès

Catalangate: authors of espionage on over 40 still unknown

Over 60 pro-independence politicians, activists and their close associates have been the target of Pegasus spyware in the past few years in what is the world’s largest known cyberattack of its kind. 

CitizenLab, the researcher group responsible for the findings, said some unknown entity within the Spanish state had been in charge of the espionage. After several days, Madrid admitted that Spain’s intelligence center (CNI) had investigated 18 out of the over 60 individuals, and with judicial approval. 

CNI’s head was dismissed three weeks after the events were first published, but no explanation of the alleged espionage to over 40 people has been given. 

Only a third of planned public investment for Catalonia in 2021 carried out

Another major complaint that is likely to be tackled is the fact that only a third of the funds allocated in the Spanish 2021 budget for investments in Catalonia were actually carried out

That is, €739.9 million, meaning that two thirds of the projects planned were never executed. 

This is not a new issue – on the contrary, this is one of the main arguments of the pro-independence movement over the years. Yet, since the figures for 2021 have been recently published, the complaints are back in the agenda. 

The investment carried out in the Madrid region was 184% of the amount foreseen in the spending plan (€2.08 billion).

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  • Catalan presidency minister Laura Vilagrà, left, seating in front of Spanish counterpart Félix Bolaños in the Catalan government HQ on April 24, 2022 (by Maria Asmarat)

  • Catalan presidency minister Laura Vilagrà, left, seating in front of Spanish counterpart Félix Bolaños in the Catalan government HQ on April 24, 2022 (by Maria Asmarat)

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