Editorial La Vanguardia, 14 December 2021
Over the last few months there has been a succession of worrying news for the future of the Catalan economy. Not a few of them are, to some extent, the responsibility of the Government of the Generalitat. The most notorious, in this sense, is perhaps the rejection of the multimillion-dollar investment approved by the central government to expand El Prat airport. This decision on a key infrastructure could have serious effects on the connectivity of our economic fabric, which may not be obvious now, but will end up damaging Catalan interests.
Last Friday we published some good news: Volkswagen will produce three electric car models in Martorell, if the required European subsidies are granted. The next day, we published bad news: Volkswagen ruled out Catalonia as the site of its future Spanish battery plant. Nissan’s two production lines in the Zona Franca, which have been in operation for four decades, will be permanently shut down within a week, without a satisfactory plan for the industrial reuse of their facilities. Yesterday we learned that the Chinese firm Great Wall confirmed the withdrawal of its bid to locate there. The option of the Australian real estate company Goodman now seems to be the best placed.
The government must put aside its disputes and focus on plans to reindustrialise the country.
Other projects, these far from the Catalan capital, such as Hard Rock on the Costa Daurada or the Winter Olympics in the Pyrenees, have also run into difficulties. Spokespersons for Tarragona’s tourism sector consider the first of these projects to be crucial for its future, regretting that it is on the back burner and attributing this to the struggle between the various pro-independence forces, both within and outside the government. In the case of the Winter Olympic Games, with majority support in the Pyrenean area, the frank backing of the Government of Aragon contrasts with the parsimony of the Government of the Generalitat, which once again seems sensitive to the opposition to the CUP’s project and avoids specifying its commitment for the time being.
Each of these initiatives has its own characteristics. But they have all been produced or are echoed at a time when the Government of the Generalitat lacks something essential for the future of the country: an encouraging economic and reindustrialisation policy and a model for relations with the business world that is fluid and fertile. And in which it has been unnecessarily snubbed, with absences such as those of President Torra, and later of President Aragonès, at Seat events attended by the King, which ended up being an affront to this key automobile firm.
But, in terms of the design of an economic policy, the government lacks definition, from the lines of innovation to those of training, passing through industrial or logistical ones. This is detrimental to citizens, who see insufficient progress in housing, public transport and, as we said, reindustrialisation policies. This can be attributed to very slow government action: the weekly volume of legislative production by the Consell Executiu has been four times less than that of the Council of Ministers. And this can be attributed to differences between the partners in government, aggravated by those between ERC and Junts, especially Junts. This makes it difficult to take decisions, and the Government’s decisions are complicated, delayed and lacking in ambition and effect.
The Government must put aside, once and for all, the noisy and tiresome internal disputes that weaken Catalonia and focus as soon as possible on defining and implementing policies that truly contribute to the country’s progress. To do otherwise is nothing short of suicidal.