Mas meets with Rajoy to build a relationship “based on trust” and offers cooperation
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, has offered Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy; cooperation regards Spain’s structural reforms, such as the Labour Market reform. Mas has not put prior conditions on the table, but only wants to “be able to talk about a new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain”. He said he understands that this is not an “urgent priority for Rajoy”, but it is a “crucial issue” for Catalonia and “an opportunity” for Spain. Mas stressed that his cooperation would not be indefinite, and would have to be renewed in the future. The Catalan President told FAZ about a possible “federation” or “confederation” between Catalonia and Spain.
Madrid (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, met with Spain\u2019s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, for the first time since Rajoy took office one month ago. The institutional meeting, held on Wednesday afternoon at Moncloa Palace in Madrid, had a central issue, which is for both governments to build \u201Ca relationship based on trust\u201D. The Catalan President, who is also the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition \u2018Convergència i Unió\u2019 (CiU), offered Rajoy his cooperation to achieve Spain\u2019s structural reforms, making special reference to the Labour Market Reform and greater austerity in the public sector. Furthermore, the Catalan President supported the need to reduce Spain\u2019s public deficit, as Catalonia has been doing over the past year. However, Mas stated that Spain cannot go from an 8% to a 4.4% deficit in only one year, as requested by the European Union, without \u201Cdestroying\u201D the Welfare State. \u201CIt is not possible, it is neither reasonable nor realistic, and it goes against common sense\u201D, he concluded. He insisted that the deficit needs to be reduced, but without \u201Cdestroying\u201D the economy and the welfare state. He added that those deficit commitments were requested when the European economy was in a period of growth. Nonetheless, the Catalan President once again stated his commitment for austerity measures and asked every Autonomous Community to do the same as Catalonia.
Mas said \u201Cno prior conditions have been put on the table\u201D to give Rajoy their support, but he only asked to be able to talk about Catalonia\u2019s and his Government\u2019s major claim: a new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain. Mas held a press conference after the meeting in which he said he was satisfied with the \u201Cfriendly meeting\u201D; \u201CMr. Rajoy is always very friendly\u201D, he continued, \u201Ceven when he disagrees\u201D. The Catalan President said he understands that the new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain is not \u201Curgent for Rajoy\u201D, but he said that it is a matter of \u201Ccrucial importance\u201D for Catalonia and \u201Can opportunity\u201D for Spain to rebuild its relationship with Catalonia. Mas said that this claim will be pushed forward by Catalonia this year and will arrive on the Spanish Government\u2019s table by the end of 2012 or early 2013, \u201Csince the Catalan agenda cannot be stopped\u201D. However, Mas explained that at the moment, the Catalan Government\u2019s aim, along with CiU, is to cooperate with the Spanish Government, cooperation that will not last forever but that would have to be renewed in the future.
Mas on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
On the same day as the meeting between Mas and Rajoy, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), published an interview with the Catalan President. Mas explained that there is a growing feeling that \u201Cwithout our own state, we will not be able to move forward\u201D. He asked for the right of the Catalan people to decide on their own future, and he proposed a \u201Cfederation\u201D or a \u201Cconfederation\u201D between Catalonia and Spain as a possible future relationship.
Catalonia gives away between 8% and 9% of its GDP
At the meeting held at the Spanish Prime Minister\u2019s residence, the Catalan President offered Mariano Rajoy his full cooperation to push Spain\u2019s main structural reforms forward without any prior conditions. Mas only asked Rajoy to be able to talk about a new fiscal agreement between Catalonia and Spain, by which Catalonia would give less money to the rest of Spain although it would still continue committed to the solidarity principle. Currently Catalonia gives away between 8% and 9% of its annual GDP, around \u20AC18 billion euros per year. Mas, like most Catalan citizens, would like this money to be halved, in order to pay for basic welfare state services and infrastructural projects in Catalonia.
The Spanish Government owes Catalonia funds
The meeting was held not to discuss concrete requests but to \u201Cbuild a relationship based on trust\u201D, said Mas. The President of the Catalan Government insisted on the importance to honour past commitments. He was referring to the money the Spanish Government legally owes Catalonia but that has still not paid. However, Mas said that there would be time to talk about that in the future, although he is confident the money would be paid as a basic sign of trust.
\u201CIt is not about Catalonia breaking up with Spain. It is about emancipation\u201D stated the Catalan President
The same day the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, met with Spain\u2019s Prime Minister, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an interview with the Catalan President. Mas stated in FAZ that \u201CIt is not about Catalonia breaking up with Spain. It is about emancipation\u201D. \u201CThere is a feeling that without our own state, we will not be able to move forwards\u201D, continued Mas. The Catalan President explained that the Catalan people must have the right to self-determination and be able to decide on their own future. This is \u201Cthe Catalan people\u2019s emancipation\u201D, according to Mas. \u201CWe do not want to share our sovereignty with Madrid, we want to have it for ourselves\u201D, he added. This does not necessarily mean being an independent state from Spain, but it means being able to decide and have our own sovereignty, he explained. With this new framework in which the Catalan people have the right to decide, Mas said that a new relationship with Spain might be possible through a \u201Cfederation\u201D or a \u201Cconfederation\u201D. \u201CWe want more Europe and more Catalonia. This means giving more political power to Europe and more political power at home [referring to Catalonia]\u201D, he explained.