Oriol Junqueras President of ERC. – 7 May 2021
The president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, greets the media upon leaving prison at the end of January. SUSANNA SAEZ (EFE)
We must get out of the day to day and plan the necessary changes 10 and 20 years from now to achieve a new, better Catalonia
Group immunity is getting closer every day. If the rate of vaccinations is maintained and the arrival of stocks is not interrupted, this summer could be the beginning of the end of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc and that has put our society as a whole in check. As we recover normality, we will have to focus our attention and energy on the resulting post-covid landscape and its economic and social consequences, which we all realize are not minor. Hence the imperative need to get to work to have a Government emerged from the polls and that, at this point, inexplicably, is still pending a tedious negotiation that two of the political actors rushed to put on track – to guarantee a majority of investiture – waiting for a third party to decide to take the plunge.
The challenges of the new Government are immense. They have always been so in a country like ours, with the limitations derived from the competence ceiling and from a State that does not respond to the demands or needs of the Catalan society and economy.
There are two main levers for the country’s recovery. The first, the recovery of confidence derived from the improvement of the health situation, which will allow the activity of many sectors to be resumed and, above all, the renewed interaction and collaboration between people, between companies and / or institutions. The second, the European recovery funds, which represent an unprecedented injection of aid: it represents the equivalent of almost four times what was the historic Marshall Plan of 1948. The Spanish State will receive 140,000 million euros in the next five years. Of these, Catalonia could end up receiving an investment of close to 30,000 million euros.
European funds, as indicated by the European Commission, must serve to make a double transformation of the Catalan economy: digital and ecological. Catalonia must emphasize a clear social outlook that ensures that the transformation and modernization of the economy does not leave groups of workers, young people or seniors, who may have difficulties adapting to the changes that will come. We cannot admit the current unemployment rate of the young, nor forget the elderly and pensions in question. The most vulnerable groups must be the object of special attention and protection.
Inexplicably, the Government is still pending a tedious negotiation that hastened to put two of the political actors on track, waiting for a third to decide to take the plunge.
We must plan the changes thinking 10 and 20 years ahead. Exit from day to day to think about the day after tomorrow. The major changes in the background require long-term thinking to begin laying the first stones, today, of a new, better Catalonia so that it will become a reality tomorrow. The Catalan government has been very active in financial aid for the most affected sectors. Catalonia is the territory that gives the most aid both in absolute value and in relation to the population -231 euros per inhabitant, 80% higher than the figures for those in second and third place. Catalonia is also the one that gives the most aid to the self-employed, SMEs and economic sectors, a total of 187 euros per inhabitant (an amount much higher than that of Navarra, located in second position, with 120.20 euros). But it should be noted that these aids have been clearly insufficient for the sectors most affected by the restrictions imposed on economic activity, such as restaurants. It is essential that the Spanish Government shows a more active and determined attitude when it comes to helping those SMEs that have seen their income drop drastically.
Also for this reason we have to be especially vigilant so that an asymmetric recovery does not take place, in which some sectors, instead of recovering, deepen their crisis.
It is necessary to continue demanding the involvement of the central Administration and the comprehensive management of the resources generated by Catalonia.
This country has enough boldness and vitality to move forward and overcome this crisis by laying the foundations for a strong and modern economy that is the pillar that sustains the welfare state. But, at the same time, it is necessary to continue demanding the involvement of the central Administration and the integral management of the resources generated by Catalonia, which are secularly drained by the central State and which never return, not even in the form of investments. Precisely now, more than ever, it is essential to reverse this trend that is impoverishing the country and weighing on economic recovery. Precisely now, more than ever, it is essential to reverse this trend that is impoverishing the country and weighing on economic recovery and social cohesion.
But in what is our competence, we have to know how to do it well, set priorities and optimize all resources. Determine what is really important and, above all, be consistent when executing resources. It also implies recovering the collaboration between the Administration and the rest of the economic and social actors. The states that recover the best are those that know how to share risks and benefits among all those who have a role in the face of collective challenges.
And, at the same time, it is necessary to streamline and modernize the Administration when deciding, authorizing and executing projects and modifying some of the current, slow and cumbersome processes. We have a unique opportunity to show that we rise to the occasion to help lift the country and its people. We deserve it.