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“We won’t do anything that may leave us out of Europe”, stated Catalan Finance Minister

The Catalan Minister for the Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell, emphatically stated that if it is “neat, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain will not affect the economy” nor business activity. In front of about 250 employers who were invited at a luncheon organised by Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, Mas-Colell explained that “Catalonia had emerged stronger” from the economic crisis. The former Economics Professor in Harvard and Berkley also emphasised that the Catalan Government “will not do anything that may leave [Catalans] out of Europe”, thereby sending “reassuring” messages to business-owners. In his speech, the Finance Minister also defended the ongoing self-determination process, describing it as an attempt to respond to the Spanish Government’s centralist policy which is looking to “laminate” Catalonia’s Autonomy “using the crisis as an excuse”.

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19 February 2014 08:03 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Minister for the Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell, emphatically stated that if it is “neat, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain will not affect the economy” nor business activity. In front of about 250 employers who were invited at a luncheon organised by Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, Mas-Colell explained that “Catalonia had emerged stronger” from the economic crisis. The former Economics Professor in Harvard and Berkley also emphasised that the Catalan Government “will not do anything that may leave [Catalans] out of Europe”, thereby sending “reassuring” messages to business-owners. In his speech, the Finance Minister also defended the ongoing self-determination process, describing it as an attempt to respond to the Spanish Government’s centralist policy which is looking to “laminate” Catalonia’s Autonomy “using the crisis as an excuse”.


Andreu Mas- Colell addressed the issue that an independent Catalonia would be excluded from the European Union, which has raised by Spanish and European authorities. In such respect, the Finance Minister gave a clear and unequivocal statement: “We will not ever do anything that may leave us out of Europe”. Mas-Colell stressed the European spirit of Catalonia, which is “stronger” than any other European region, “in every aspect”. For this reasons, he wanted to send his support to the citizens of Ukraine.

EU membership is “in the hands of European countries and institutions” as a whole

The prestigious Micro-economics Professor pointed out that staying within Europe’s political and economic union is not merely in the hands of the Spanish Government, which might veto Catalonia’s full-right EU membership,  but in the hands of European countries and its institutions as a whole. Mas-Colell emphasised that historically they have been “tolerant”. “They will sooner or later eventually be involved in the process” in favour of Catalonia, he added.

The Catalan Minister admitted that the Spanish Government’s attitude towards Catalonia is different to the British Executive’s towards Scotland. However, he explained that Spain could block Catalan citizens’ democratic claims forever, since the country is part of the European Union. Mas-Colell argued that being part of the EU “conditions, and to a great extent” what can be considered as a “respectable attitude” to deal with the issue. Thus, said Mas-Colell, the conflict will not be short, but “the environment will enable the persistence of the peaceful and democratic will of the people of Catalonia”, who will finally have the possibility to “determine [their] own destiny”.

“It would not make sense” for Catalonia to lower taxes “unilaterally” in 2015

Employers have expressed their concern about the fiscal pressure in Catalonia, which is one of the highest of all European areas. In this sense, they have asked whether the Minister could guarantee that taxes would be lowered in 2015. Mas-Colell replied that he “did not see why it would be impossible for taxes to be lowered” but that in order for it to happen, the Spanish Government would also have to make this decision. “It would not make sense” for Catalonia to lower taxes “unilaterally”. The Minister explained that Catalonia cannot compensate the tax increases decided by the Spanish Government. He explained that if the Spanish Finance Ministry decided to increase the Income tax, they could not lower it at the same time since the Catalan Government would be lacking significant revenue in such a scenario.

The negotiations for a new fiscal redistribution scheme among Spanish Autonomous Communities also was on the employers’ minds. Mas-Colell has again insisted that Catalonia will not have a significant role in the negotiation of such a model, since it has always played this part in the last decades. However, now, Catalan authorities are willing to leave the initiative to other regional governments to lead in such an issue. In this vein, Mas-Colell gave his support to Madrid’s and other Autonomous Communities’ claims.

Finally, Andreu Mas-Colell mentioned fiscal balances issue, which calculate how much money Catalan citizens and companies pay to the Spanish Government and how much of this money comes back as services, investments and funds. He noted that this year the experts have more information than ever in such respect. All this information will foster the debate among experts and ensure a faithful picture of the fiscal situation in Catalonia compared to the rest of Spain.Hide Keyboard

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  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, on Wednesday at the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce luncheon (by J. Molina)

  • The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, on Wednesday at the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce luncheon (by J. Molina)