President proposes Quebec-style Clarity Act with Spain on referendum conditions

New inflation-tackling measures include €100 per student, housing grants for young people, and expansion of T-Jove travel card to 30-year-olds

Catalan president Pere Aragonès in parliament for the general policy debate on September 27, 2022
Catalan president Pere Aragonès in parliament for the general policy debate on September 27, 2022 / Job Vermeulen

Cillian Shields & Gerard Escaich Folch | Barcelona

September 27, 2022 01:06 PM

September 27, 2022 10:38 PM

The Catalan president has put forward a new proposal to the Spanish government regarding the independence conflict.

Pere Aragonès announced the proposal of what he termed as a 'clarity agreement' with "the maximum support and involvement from the Catalan society," he said during his opening speech in the general policy debate on Tuesday in the parliament.

The ERC figurehead used the example of Quebec and Canada as a way to follow. In 2000, Quebec and the federal government of the country reached an agreement over a potential future referendum on the condition that it is backed by a clear majority, be based on an unambiguous question, and have the approval of the House of Commons. 

The president considers that the independence movement will be better prepared to defend its position to Spain once a wider consensus is reached in Catalonia, and will also be "more legitimate" in the eyes of the international community. 


Araonès insisted that this is the "fastest and most efficient" way to vote again. 

The clarity agreement will establish "when and how Catalonia can decide on its future," he explained before adding "as Canada and Quebec have done, and as the UK and Scotland did and, I am convinced, will do again."

The idea behind Aragonès's proposal is to set in motion what Catalan society "has learned since autumn 2017 and surpass those difficulties that did not allow us to become independent five years ago." 

"Only a legitimate and agreed referendum can replace the October 1 [2017] independence vote," he continued, before adding that the objective is to hold a "definitive referendum" that serves to turns citizens' decisions into "political consequences."


Before the gathered lawmakers in the chamber, the leader of the executive outlined that 82% of Catalans agree that they should have a vote on Catalonia's future, quoting a survey from the Catalan Centre for Polling (CEO). Therefore, the government will create a "wide-reaching agreement representing the plurality and diversity of this country," the leader said.

The only way to get over the "blockage" is with a "constructive proposal," because for Aragonès, "full freedom can only be achieved if shared by a vast majority." 

The clarity agreement arrives after the start of the process of 'de-judicialization' of the Catalan independence conflict between the Spanish and Catalan governments, as agreed in one of the latest meetings between executives in the dialogue table between both sides. These meetings are part of a political deal reached between senior coalition member Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya and the Spanish Socialist party to support Pedro Sánchez in his bid to become Prime Minister of the country after the last election.

The meetings between the Catalan and Spanish executives have been a constant source of confrontation within the Catalan coalition government, and so far, there have only been a total of three gatherings since February 2020. 

The last one was held in Madrid on July 27, when members of the Catalan and Spanish cabinets agreed to dejudicialize politics and protect the Catalan language.

In fact, none of the Junts per Catalunya, the junior member of the Catalan coalition government, representatives have attended either of the last two meetings. 

Spanish government rejects proposal

Less than one hour after Catalan president Aragonès made his announcement, the Spanish government already confirmed that they reject the proposal

"A referendum is not legal," sources from the executive added hours later to the Catalan News Agency (ACN). 

"It is understandable that [the Catalan government] defends their highest interests, but the Spanish executive bet still rests in continuing to work on talks on independence at the negotiation table to reach possible agreements," these sources added. In fact, these meetings "work" and "are already showing their outcomes," ACN quoted.

This message increases the already announced negative to the Clarity Act proposal by spokesperson Isabel Rodríguez during a weekly press conference after the council of ministers.

At that moment, Rodríguez rejected answering as she did not have enough information on the matter, however, she confirmed that the interests of the Catalan executive are "not at all shared by the Spanish government."

Measures to tackle inflation

Apart from the clarity agreement proposal, aiming to clear a pathway forward in the independence conflict, Aragonès also addressed other issues during his opening speech, mainly tackling inflation and the cost of living crisis with a series of financial measures. 

Catalan president Pere Aragonès speaks during his opening speech in the general policy debate on September 27, 2022 in the parliament
Catalan president Pere Aragonès speaks during his opening speech in the general policy debate on September 27, 2022 in the parliament / Job Vermeulen

The measures outlined in the Catalan parliament on Tuesday were conditioned on the approval of the 2023 budget, which the economy minister is already preparing. 

The Catalan executive will implement new measures to tackle inflation, such as awarding families €100 per student as a way to help pay for school materials, housing grants for young people, and expanding the age group that can avail of the T-Jove travel card from 24 to 30.

These subsidies will "compensate for the strong increase of school material that families had had to make upfront in September," Aragonès explained. This measure will be achieved through a tax credit for low- and middle- income families, the president said. 

However, Aragonès vowed that Catalonia will not take part in the "populist" tax breaks that "only benefit 1% of the population," making reference to the lowering of taxes that has been seen in other parts of Spain run by conservative parties, such as Andalusia and Madrid.

"The model for Catalonia is now low taxes and deficient public services," Aragonès said. Instead, the president wants a "fair and prosperous" Catalonia, and an economic model "always thinking about the majority, especially low- and middle-income families."

The transition toward green energy is another pillar of the Aragonès executive. The president announced on Tuesday a series of financial grants worth €67 million to assist small- and medium-sized businesses in various projects related to their energy transition, to replace asbestos building roofs with solar panels intended for self-consumption, and subsidize bioenergy projects.