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The Catalan President advised Mario Draghi against worsening the crisis by reducing the deficit too fast

Coinciding with the European Central Bank Governing Council organised in Barcelona, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, met with Mario Draghi and other members of the ECB Governing Council. Mas took the opportunity to explain to the ECB the Catalan Government’s austerity measures and its efforts to reduce Catalonia’s public deficit. He also spoke of his party’s support to all the reforms taken at Spanish level, despite being unpopular. However, Mas warned the ECB President that reducing the deficit too fast in the middle of an economic recession might worsen the crisis.

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03 May 2012 01:51 AM

by

ACN / Patricia Mateos

Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, advised the European Central Bank (ECB) against reducing the deficit too fast in the middle of an economic recession, as it would worsen the crisis. As the ECB Governing Council was meeting on Thursday May 3rd in Barcelona, the Catalan President met on Wednesday evening with ECB\u2019s President, Mario Draghi, the Governor of the Bank of Spain and ECB Governing Council Member, Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez, and the Governors of all the other European Central Banks of the Eurozone. Artur Mas took the opportunity to emphasise the Catalan Government\u2019s commitment to austerity measures, and the support his party \u2013the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU)\u2013 has given to structural reforms adopted at Spanish level. Mas also explained to the ECB the efforts Catalonia has been making to reduce its own deficit. However, he also asked the ECB Members for some flexibility regarding the public deficit targets, as focusing exclusively on the deficit while many European countries are in an economic recession could worsen the economy. Besides, Mas emphasised that Catalans are \u201CEuropean because of history, identity and will\u201D.


The Catalan President offered a dinner to the ECB Governing Council at the Generalitat Palace, in Barcelona\u2019s Gothic Quarter, which is the seat of the Catalan Government. The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz is also attending, as he is visiting Catalonia\u2019s capital coinciding with the ECB Governing Council.

The Catalan Government committed to austerity

Mas held a meeting with Mario Draghi and Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez. The Catalan President stressed the Government\u2019s commitment to austerity as a value, and with the need for structural reforms. This is why the Catalan Government supports \u201Calmost all the decisions taken by the Spanish Governments [the previous and the current one], even though they might be unpopular\u201D, he said. \u201CWe do it out of responsibility, and on many occasions we try to be a model and take the lead within the rest of Spain regarding policies reducing public spending and deficit\u201D, Mas explained.

Reducing the deficit too fast might worsen the recession

However, Mas wanted to send the ECB a warning message, taking into account the economic recession many European countries are into. \u201CThere is a risk that might end up being a danger\u201D, he stressed, as in a recession \u201Cit is not advisable to reduce the deficit at such a pace that might significantly worsen the economic and social situation\u201D. According to Mas, \u201Creducing the deficit is as important as doing it so that hope is given to the population\u201D. \u201CAnd this is said by the President of a land that does not live from being subsidised but from its effort\u201D, he concluded. Mas reminded that Catalonia, with 16% of the Spanish population, represents 19% of Spain\u2019s economy, 30% of its external trade, concentrates 22% of Spain\u2019s innovation companies and represents 1% of the world\u2019s scientific production\u201D.

Europe \u201Chas made the economy work at the service of welfare and social justice\u201D

Mas recognised that the ECB\u2019s task is \u201Cnot an easy one\u201D, because both Europe and the Euro are going through a very complex situation. However, he reminded that Europe is one of the few places in the world that \u201Chave made the economy work at the service of welfare and social justice, and not the other way around\u201D. \u201CWe should know how to preserve this conquest, even in a globalised world. And you can contribute to this in a very significant way\u201D, he stated directly addressing the ECB Governing Council.

The precursor of nowadays central banks was born in Barcelona in the Middle Age

Besides, Mas also reminded that Catalonia is \u201Cone of the oldest nations in Europe\u201D, as in the 9th century it was the only territory within the Iberian Peninsula belonging to Charlemagne\u2019s Empire. \u201CWe are in a country, Catalonia, which is not European because of an adhesion treaty or a Constitution. We are European because of history, identity and will\u201D, he underlined. The Catalan President also stated that Catalonia and Barcelona \u201Care not the result or the product of a state, but of a society\u201D, which has progressed with effort, creativity, spirit and modernity. Mas put the Generalitat Palace as an example (the place where the dinner was offered), where building work began 600 years ago, where in Barcelona the \u2018Taula de Canvi\u2019 (Exchange Table) was born; an institution that might be considered as the first public bank in Europe, and therefore a precursor of current central banks.

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  • From left to right: Mario Draghi, Artur Mas, Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez at the Generalitat Palace (by O. Campuzano)

  • From left to right: Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez, Artur Mas, and Mario Draghi at the Generalitat Palace (by O. Campuzano)

  • From left to right: Mario Draghi, Artur Mas, Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez at the Generalitat Palace (by O. Campuzano)
  • From left to right: Miguel Angel Fernández Ordóñez, Artur Mas, and Mario Draghi at the Generalitat Palace (by O. Campuzano)