Catalan president: Spain's PM 'blowing up' ongoing talks due to Catalangate handling

Future of Barcelona airport debated as economic sector pushes for expansion

Catalan president Pere Aragonès during a handshake with Javier Faus, Cercle d'Economia lobby president on May 4, 2022 (by Aina Martí)
Catalan president Pere Aragonès during a handshake with Javier Faus, Cercle d'Economia lobby president on May 4, 2022 (by Aina Martí) / Gerard Escaich Folch

Gerard Escaich Folch | Barcelona

May 4, 2022 06:49 PM

The Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, has condemned the Spanish prime minister’s management of Catalangate as being the main cause of frozen relations. Pedro Sánchez is "unfortunately, blowing up any chances for dialogue and negotiation," Aragonès said.

The president, during a speech at the inauguration of the Cercle d’Economia convention on Wednesday, took the opportunity to urge for a "turning point" in the management of Catalangate by the Spanish government. 

"It is necessary for those accountable to take responsibility," Aragonès said. It is necessary to "rebuild a minimum level of trust, so the negotiations can restart," he added.

More than 60 Catalan pro-independence leaders' phones have been infected and their owners spied on between 2017 and 2020, using the Israeli company NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, as the New Yorker magazine and the University of Toronto-based research group, Citizen Lab, reported on April 18.

The Catalan president has used his time during the opening speech to remind the audience that during last year’s Cercle d’Economia convention he pushed to solve the future of Catalonia. However, he acknowledged his "disappointment and fear" that this compromise from the Catalan executive has not been met by the Spanish government. 

"It cannot be possible to have a good and justifiable espionage operation and one that is wrong and unjustifiable," the Catalan president said referring to the news that the Spanish PM’s phone was also hacked.  

Barcelona Airport debate

The future of Barcelona Airport has been another one of the topics talked about during the inauguration speeches, specifically, its expansion.

This is one of the main points from the economic sector represented at the Cercle d’Economia. The expansion of the airport was and remains a huge debate in Catalonia, with groups pushing to stop it over environmental concerns

Press play below to listen to Filling the Sink, the Catalan News podcast from July 2021, on the debate surrounding the expansion of the El Prat airport.

Others, such as the economic sector believe a "country without an international airport will not be able to compete worldwide," Javier Faus, Cercle d’Economia president said during his speech.

"It’s not a debate about tourism, it’s about being connected to America and Asia," he added.

One of these voices against came from the mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau. During her turn to speak at the convention, the city council leader focused on the importance of the airport and the port but said "there is no priority in expanding them."

The port and airport "require unsustainable energy to run them, and expensively, as we do not have energy sovereignty. Efforts need to be diverted to renewable energies," Colau said.

For Pere Aragonès, the airport is a fundamental piece of infrastructure, "but there are some restrictions that need a debate," to find a solution.

One of these is to have "airport management within Catalonia, not only for the Catalan government to control exclusively, but to share the role with city councils, and the Barcelona metropolitan area," he added.

The expansion of the airport was then put on hold as the Spanish government did not follow through with the idea, accusing the Catalan executive of not having a clear policy on it.