June 15, 2024

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Turning the page on confrontation. It assures that ‘no small part of the growing disaffection in Catalonia in recent years with Spain has to do with the lack of political will to tackle the problem of the chronic underfunding of the Generalitat’. But this can only be tackled with a government that turns the page on confrontation. For this reason, it calls for ‘courage’ from ‘Catalan political leaders and the leaders of the main Spanish political parties’. The Círculo is upfront. It recognises that the challenge facing the country is enormous, ‘no one can do it alone’.

Cristina Farrés and David Expósito, 16 May 2024

The president of the Círculo de Economía, Jaume Guardiola, and the director general, Miquel Nadal CG

The Círculo de Economía calls for ‘political courage’ from the parties to ‘get out of the blocks’ and give Catalonia stability

The Catalan business lobby assures that it is time for ‘transversality’ to ‘repopulate the centre, from where we can move forward collectively’.

The Círculo de Economía has been the last Catalan business organisation to send a message to the Catalan parties after the 12M elections. The lobby chaired by Jaume Guardiola has called for ‘political courage’ from both Catalan and national parties to ‘get out of the block and reach an agreement with forces that have legitimate political horizons and in some aspects are in confrontation’.

In this way, without mentioning it, between the lines and with a desire for a low profile, which is the main feature of the current mandate in the institution, he called for the investiture of Salvador Illa to be facilitated.

Pact and compromise

‘It is time for a cross-cutting approach that allows the centre to be repopulated, from which we can move forward collectively’, says the business organisation. It makes it clear that ‘what suits the country [for Catalonia] is a pact and compromise to forge solid and stable majorities that allow ambitious policies to be made’.

This is the objective, the Catalan stability that allows for a ‘productive, realistic and ambitious change of model’ that must be implemented with the ‘demanding but complicit accompaniment of the other social and business leaderships of the country’.

The current situation overwhelms the Círculo’s forecasts

Guardiola thus positions the Círculo de Economía in line with the demands of Foment del Treball and Pimec to facilitate the necessary agreements so that the 13th-15th Legislature can begin in Parliament.

The ex-CEO of Banco Sabadell has waited for the publication of the opinion piece that prepares the ground for the Meeting before making his pronouncement. The main annual meeting of the lobby will begin next Wednesday 24 May at the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, the space attached to the new Melina Gran Melià Tower  (the former hotel Juan Carlos I in Barcelona) under the title The World on Trial.

The president and the general director of the Cercle, Miquel Nadal, insist that now is the time to talk about how to boost productivity. In fact, the new opinion piece, the first to be published since 16 October, is entitled Claves para recuperar el dinamismo económico y mejorar el bienestar de la ciudadanía (Keys to recover economic dynamism and improve the welfare of citizens).

They have maintained a programme with the essential political debate – the traditional meetings with the President of the Government, the leader of the opposition and the Catalan President (Pere Aragonès still appears in the official programme), as well as the visit of the King, who presents the Círculo’s prize for the Construction of Europe -, but Catalan current affairs have overwhelmed the lobby’s programming.

The ‘institutional abnormality’ of Catalonia

So much so that they have even had to add the addendum to the published document to officially demand that Catalonia overcome the instability of the last decade, that of the procés. ‘Since 2010, there have been five successive autonomous legislatures with an average duration of two and a half years,’ Guardiola and Nadal recall in the message debated in the highest governing bodies of the bisiness lobby. ‘This period of institutional abnormality must come to an end’, they state.

‘The normalisation of exceptionality has extraordinary costs’, the organisation stresses. As for the possible repetition of the elections, the Círculo is radically against a return to the ballot box. ‘Resigning ourselves to a repetition would be a bad sign, as it could increase the disaffection of citizens with respect to democratic mechanisms’, it warns.

Change of productive model

The note promoted by Guardiola and Nadal reminds us that ‘there are competencies that the Generalitat exercises exclusively or jointly, on which the improvement of productivity depends’. The message calls for a ‘change of model’ of productivity throughout the territory that implies ‘reaching a consensus on policies that will have to be implemented during the legislature’. And this demand is incompatible with enduring another legislature of the confrontation of the procés, a political option that has been severely criticised at the polls.

Beyond 12M, the Circle warns of the ‘serious problem of the productivity of the Spanish economy’ and the growing distance that Catalonia is assuming with respect to other regions of both Spain and the rest of the EU that, historically, have been its equals or have surpassed them. ‘The cluster of more productive regions is moving away from Catalonia and Spain and towards north-eastern Europe.

How to tackle pending economic changes

It regrets that ‘the underlying problem’ is the ‘lack of a clear and ambitious long-term economic model’ and calls for a firm commitment to overcome the ‘bias towards the less productive tertiary sector’; to encourage SMEs to ‘gain business size’ and to overcome the ‘lack of investment in physical capital, intangible assets and also in human capital’. In other words, to leave behind once and for all the problems that the Spanish economy has been dragging along for decades, anchored to sun and sand and cheap labour. The Circle also identifies the ‘key elements to boost productivity’. The list is well known, as it has been repeated ad nauseam by economic and business organisations of all kinds, which are calling for in-depth and far-reaching reforms that are incompatible with short-sighted governments that, if they are lucky, will only last four years.

The Círculo rescues its 2018 regional funding project

It includes tackling education and the ‘training of human capital’; it calls for an ambitious policy in ‘research and innovation’; to promote once and for all infrastructures that are still in the pipeline, such as the expansion of El Prat airport; a reform of public administration to make it more efficient and not a monster with feet of clay that eats up all the recurrent; and the reform of the regional funding system, an issue that ‘cannot be postponed’.Guardiola and Nadal dedicate a specific chapter in the opinion piece to this end. They call ‘unacceptable’ a ‘minimal reform that only proposes small tweaks’ and recover the proposal of the Círculo de 2018, a less ambitious initiative than the fiscal pact that calls for the Basque quota for Catalonia. The Catalan business lobby proposes a ‘system of shared tax bases in which both the central government and the government of each autonomous community can manage and collect their taxes’ without the territories exclusively collecting all the taxes generated in the territory and generating a fund to pay for common services that ‘provides the central administration’.

Turning the page on confrontation

It assures that ‘no small part of the growing disaffection in Catalonia in recent years with Spain has to do with the lack of political will to tackle the problem of the chronic underfunding of the Generalitat’. But this can only be tackled with a government that turns the page on confrontation. For this reason, it calls for ‘courage’ from ‘Catalan political leaders and the leaders of the main Spanish political parties’.

The Círculo is upfront. It recognises that the challenge facing the country is enormous, ‘no one can do it alone’.

https://cronicaglobal.elespanol.com/business/20240516/el-circulo-de-economia-los-estabilidad-cataluna/855664458_0.html

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