July 22, 2021
An airplane flies over the protected area of La Ricarda, where the Xavier Cervera runway is to be extended
Stability and progress for Catalonia
Catalonia is experiencing a momentous time. The next arrival of the millionaire European recovery funds and the airport expansion project, which is the most ambitious in its history, define the largest investment scenario that has occurred since the 1992 Olympic Games. The ecological, productive and social transformation that can be recorded as a consequence of this will define the future of the country in the coming years, the generation of economic progress and quality jobs.
Successfully facing the historic opportunity presented to Catalonia requires loyal cooperation between all public administrations –central, regional and local– and effective public-private collaboration, in order to be able to add the maximum effort and talent. But nothing will be achieved if there is no political stability, as has been claimed by the Foment del Treball employers’ association, and a climate of trust is created that is capable of reactivating entrepreneurial initiatives, attracting more foreign investment and achieving the return of the headquarters of the companies that they left the autonomous community at the peak of the independence process.
Trust and legal certainty are essential to guarantee the future
The main key that must make this necessary stability possible lies in the full assumption that the unilateral path to independence is not possible in Spain and Europe today, as recent history has dramatically demonstrated. From this hard lesson, it would be necessary to learn and focus, now, the highest priority on achieving, after the pandemic crisis, a powerful economic recovery that is green, digital, innovative and inclusive, with a reduction in the high rates of unemployment and inequality . It is an ideal moment for Catalonia to strengthen itself after so many lost years.
One of the determining tests of the return of economic confidence to Catalonia will be the return of the business headquarters that once left the territory. The Catalan employers’ association, in this sense, warns that if this return does not take place there is the risk of irreversible displacement of decision-making centers and jobs to other autonomies. There are many who want to return. However, he points out that there must be absolute certainty that there is legal certainty. For the return of the headquarters, as well as to attract investment and talent, it is also necessary that there be fiscal competitiveness – or at least equality – with respect to other territories.
The dynamism of Catalan society shows that there is sufficient capacity to face new challenges. What is needed is for public administrations to measure up in all areas. The indecisions of the Generalitat regarding the expansion of the airport or the direct opposition to it by the Barcelona City Council are two attitudes that put bats in the wheel of progress, since intercontinental air connections are crucial in the 21st century for the capture of investments and talent, in addition to tourism. The same could be said of the Barcelona City Council’s rejection of the installation of a subsidiary of the Hermitage Museum, a first-rate cultural initiative.
In addition to laying the foundations for future progress, there are also many problems of the present that Catalonia has to solve after the impact of the pandemic, such as the health situation, employment and training of young people, serious social inequalities, the implementation of digitization or the definition of structures to manage European funds and the decarbonization process. For all this, the climate of tension and political confrontation experienced up to now is not valid. It is urgent, as we have said, to restore legal security, dialogue and loyal cooperation between administrations, especially between the Generalitat and the central government, and public-private collaboration. The opportunity to take a big step forward is unique.