The former Spanish Ambassador to NATO will represent Catalonia in Brussels

The Spanish diplomat Juan Prat will become the next Catalan Delegate to the European Union, representing the Catalan Government’s interests in Brussels. Prat was the Spanish Ambassador to The Netherlands and used to be the Ambassador to NATO with former PM José Maria Aznar. He also served as the European Commission’s Director General for External Relations. Besides, Barroso and Mas will meet on the 3rd of March.


February 16, 2011 10:11 PM

Brussels (ACN).- The veteran diplomat Juan Prat will become the next Delegate of the Catalan Government to the European Union. He will be in charge of representing Catalonia before the EU institutions and informing the Catalan Government about EU decisions. Prat is familiar with the ‘Brussels bubble’, as he used to be the Spanish Ambassador to NATO with the former Conservative government of José María Aznar. In addition, he worked within the European Commission in several key positions, like Commissioner’s Head of Cabinet or Director General for External Relations. Juan Prat is a veteran member of the Spanish Diplomat corps. Until this January, he was the Spanish Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Besides, today, it has also been announced that the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, will meet with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, on the 3rd of March in Brussels. Barroso did not meet with the previous Catalan President. Mas will also try to meet with some European Commissioners, like Olli Rehn. Rumours point out that the leader of the Catalan Christian-Democrats and the number 2 of Mas’ Centre Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), used his good contacts in Brussels to guarantee these meetings. Duran is not a member of the Catalan Government but Mas announced that he would play a role in Catalonia’s Foreign Policy.

Week after week, the political posts in the new Catalan Government and the Catalan public administration are being replaced. Today it was announced that the veteran diplomat Juan Prat would replace Albert Moreno as the Delegate of the Catalan Government to Brussels. Moreno used to be a close advisor on International Politics to the former Catalan President José Montilla and he replaced Anna Terrón when she became Spanish Deputy Minister for Immigration, all three from the Catalan Socialist Party. Now, the new Catalan Government, ruled by the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), appointed a veteran member of the Spanish Diplomat corps for a key post regarding Catalonia’s international projection. Prat has wide experience in Brussels and direct access to many offices. However, some reactions, such as those from the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), were surprised by Prat’s supposed lack of Catalan nationalism, considering the ideology of the current Catalan Government and Prat’s future role. Juan Prat used to be the representative of the Conservative Government of José María Aznar, famous for his Spanish nationalism, to the NATO. Prat, for instance, defended the Spanish participation to Iraq’s invasion in 2003.

Juan Prat’s former experience

Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan Government, valued Prat’s wide diplomat experience and contacts in Brussels. Juan Prat is a veteran member of the Spanish Diplomat corps. He started his career under Franco’s regime and he developed most of his experience in Europe. Prat held several diplomat posts under the rule of many Spanish governments from very different political sides, ranging from the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) to the People’s Party (PP), or the Spanish Centre-Right party from the 1970s and 1980s UCD.

Born in Barcelona in 1942, he holds a Bachelor degree in Law and another one in Economics from the University of Barcelona. He also studied a Masters in Law in Madrid. Prat went through the Spanish Diplomatic School between 1968 and 1970. His first destination was Ecuador, as the first secretary of the Spanish Embassy (1970-1972). Then he became the deputy head of the Spanish commercial delegation to the Soviet Union until 1975, during Franco’s dictatorship. He left this post to become counsellor of the Spanish Embassy to South Korea. Between 1978 and 1983, he worked in Spain, in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Agriculture. After this period he went to Morocco as the economic and commercial counsellor of the Spanish Embassy. In 1986, with Spain’s entry into the European Union, Prat arrived in Brussels.

He was the Head of Cabinet for the Spanish European Commissioner Abel Matutes for 4 years. Then in 1990 he was appointed European Commission’s Director for North-Sotuh Relations Mediterranean Policy, Latin America and Asia. Between 1995 and 1996 he became Director General for External Relations. When the People’s Party (PP) came to power, Prat left Brussels. And between 1996 and 2000 he was the Spanish Ambassador to Italy, Albania, Malta and San Marino. In 2000, he came back to Brussels. José Maria Aznar appointed him the Spanish Ambassador to NATO. This responsibility made him defend Iraq’s invasion in 2003. When the Socialists came into power in 2004, he was replaced and appointed Special Ambassador for Mediterranean Affairs. In August 2007, he became the Spanish Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In early January, he left this position. Two years ago, the former Catalan President, José Montilla, appointed him as a member of an expert advisory group in European affairs.

Duran i Lleida may be behind this appointment

In Brussels, there is the idea that CiU’s number two and leader of the Christian-Democrat party, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida is behind this appointment. Despite not being in the Catalan Government, Duran i Lleida plays a main role. He is CiU’s strong man in Madrid and its Spokesperson in the Spanish Parliament. The Catalan President, Artur Mas, already said that Duran would play a significant role in the Catalan External Policy.

Meeting with Barroso

Besides this appointment, Artur Mas will meet with José Manuel Durao Barroso, the President of the European Commission on the 3rd of March. Duran i Lleida’s contacts and his good relations with Barroso seem to have helped get this interview. José Montilla, the former Catalan President, never got this interview because when he was the Spanish Minister for Industry, he had a political fight with Barroso. Artur Mas will also seek to meet with other members of the European Commission’s college, such as the Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn.