Manel Manchón, 10/13/2021
The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez and the President of the Cercle d’Economia, Javier Faus, greet each other at the Cercle d’Economia / DAVID ZORRAKINO – EUROPA PRESS
The business lobby criticizes Mayor Ada Colau and Catalan President Pere Aragonès for defending “strongly ideological” models and asks that they look to Portugal, Germany or the Netherlands
Of an “urgent” and “shared” nature. The Círculo de Economía demands a “prosperity” plan that knows how to identify and implement the essential projects for the growth of Barcelona and Catalonia. The business lobby expresses its “disappointment” with the Barcelona City Council and with the Government after, in the economic conferences of the Circle, last May, it offered its confidence in President Pere Aragonès and in the possibility that a change of course was to be initiated after defending pardons. Now, things have changed and it is demanded that an agreement be reached for the expansion of the El Prat airport, once the “financing” is in place, and large pacts are established on five major economic areas: the redesign of the tourism model, digitization, the energy model, life sciences and a boost to industry.
The business organization has drawn up a tough note with the two executives, the local and the regional. The premise they share is clear, either there is a reaction from the two public powers or the future of the city and the whole of Catalonia is at risk. “Our capital and our country are risking the future of all: we can be trapped in a spiral of economic irrelevance, of slow but inexorable decline”, it is pointed out, although from the assumption of the possible errors of the economic world and the will to fight against an “extractive” capitalism.
From the center, like Germany
That is the word that is on the lips of much of the economic world that has organized in recent months to demand a clear change of course in Barcelona. The Catalan capital is understood as the lever that should allow a leap that clears this threat of decline. The business lobby chaired by the lawyer and businessman Javier Faus along with personalities such as Jaume Guardiola, José Manuel González Páramo, Miguel Trias Sagnier or Marc Puig, enters fully into the analysis of other experiences, with progressive governments, to make the team of Ada Colau’s government in Barcelona or the Aragonès executive realize that it is not about going for or against certain ideological projects, but about “pragmatism” and “collaboration”.
“Nowadays the Barcelona and Catalan politics do not help to make the country progress in the search and execution of an economic development that brings us closer to this shared prosperity and that generates consensus and reaches the whole world,” he says, after highlighting the policies of the “progressive” government in Portugal, of Mayor Anne Hidalgo in Paris or of the municipal government in Milan, which have been models for Colau. It also insists on the “centrality” that reigns in Germany after the elections and with a possible SPD government that includes all the work done by former Chancellor Gerard Schröder and that was later used by the leader of the CDU, Angela Merkel. “Germany will continue to be governed from the centrality, without being conditioned by the minority extremes,” says the Circle’s note.
Against extractive capitalism
The position defended by the business lobby, which insists on collaboration and not demonizing anyone, is that there are other experiences that should make a dent in the Barcelona City Council and the Generalitat. “Portugal and the city of Milan are other examples of public-private collaboration, of complicity between administrations governed by the center-left and civil society to achieve a model of prosperity where productivity, economic growth and sustainability go hand in hand. We defend that the general interest prevails over the private interests, come from where they come ”, insists in the Circle. It affects the possible criticisms that the entire economic world has received in recent months for being, supposedly, in a higher plane unrelated to the economic precariousness of a good part of the population.
“Of course, sometimes (private interests) come from the business world, and in this sense the Circle has also positioned itself against the so-called extractive capitalism and in favor of a conscious capitalism focused on the creation of social value. But they also often come from private corporate interests, contrary to the new competition, for example digital, or from mere political tactism resulting from electoral interest ”, he points out in reference to the Colau municipal team or the Generalitat government.
The degrowth, “an irresponsibility”
The criticism is frontal about what part of that left is trying to do in Barcelona, but also against an ERC that is opposed, until now, to the expansion of the Barcelona airport. “The apology for degrowth is an irresponsibility that an open European economy cannot afford. Decrease is not credible even in the area of climate change. In industrialized countries it is being shown that economic growth and the reduction of emissions can be reconciled, and scientists and economists point out that technology and innovation will be part of the solution to the problem, and without growth and business profits reinvested in research, it will not be possible. it will be able to advance ”, affirms.
Despite the positions of other entities, associations or employers, the Circle has sought its moment to claim these great agreements, marking clear distances with the political power on either side of the Sant Jaume square (city council and government). The long, eight-page note tries to place itself on a plane from which a new framework for collaboration can be established without being perceived as going against anyone. The premise is that “we must move away from the extremes that condition reaching consensus in the country” and insists on those experiences in Europe: Portugal, Germany, Holland, Paris or Milan.
El Prat, direct connection with the world
There is no space for the independence procés or to claim now or put on the table a debate on self-government, beyond reiterating an improvement in financing or investment in infrastructure, three lines of the entire text. What it indicates, precisely, is to take advantage of the potential of the institutional framework itself. “The future of Catalonia calls for a state policy, and therefore, to have a Catalan presence and influence again in Spain, the only truly existing state that we Catalans have. We ask for broad consensus to be able to implement a strategic model that allows us to achieve the prosperity we seek. That is why it is necessary for Barcelona and Catalonia to be governed from the centrality, which after all represents the majority of citizens and which is where the necessary consensus to carry out ambitious policies can be found,” he says.
Regarding the airport, the Circle welcomes the presentation of possible alternatives to recover the project as has been done by the vice president of the Generalitat, Jordi Puigneró, although it was rejected at the same moment by Pere Aragonès. What is claimed is “consensus among all administrations” to make this expansion a reality, while respecting the “environment”, with the conviction that the “direct connection from Barcelona to the world is essential, not only to attract higher quality tourism but especially to open up great opportunities to boost our economic, business and entrepreneurial fabric ”.
Avoid decay and irrelevance
But can there be a concrete way out? “It is the responsibility of all administrations to work so that the expansion of the airport is a reality. Failure to do so is again irresponsible, especially when funding is guaranteed. We therefore ask the three administrations to urgently return to the dialogue table on this basic infrastructure, perhaps one of the most important for the country’s competitiveness, and to reach an agreement. There is an absolutely majority consensus in favor of an extension that minimizes the environmental impact, therefore, the obligation of the administrations, which are at the service of the citizens of the country, is to make it possible ”.
Faced with this situation, with respect to Barcelona and Catalonia, with governments that are considered to have closed in on themselves, the business lobby demands a reaction from the whole of society. It calls for “normality, because a city and a country have to function, with greater attention to daily management” and also “ambition”, “realism”, “consensus” and “courage”, with a clear message to Colau and Aragonès. “We ask for political courage and a sense of country to execute the strategy, without fear of its political consequences. The alternative is immobility, a permanent blockade, which has no short-term political cost. But it is an alternative that does not think about the general interest of the country and that condemns us to decline and irrelevance in the medium and long term,” says the business lobby.