The President and the Minister addressing the media before the meeting. | Photo: Raquel Pérez
The President and the Minister addressing the media before the meeting. | Photo: Raquel Pérez

The President of the Government of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès i Garcia, today chaired a meeting of the Council for Foreign Action and European Union Relations, in which he, together with the Minister for Foreign Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu, laid out the main strategic lines of Catalonia’s foreign action for the coming years. The President expressed the Government of Catalonia’s aim of “re-establishing, deploying and consolidating the Government of Catalonia’s network of delegations abroad” and also said that “tomorrow, with the appointment of the delegate to Andorra, the Catalan Government will have more delegates than ever: 20”. He also said that the total number of foreign delegations will soon rise to 21 with the inclusion of the Delegation to Colombia, the opening of which was announced in Bogotá on the Catalan leader’s recent trip to South America. In an event at Barcelona’s historical La Llotja de Mar attended by some 30 representatives of local bodies involved in foreign action, President Aragonès said, “foreign action is a major priority for the Government of Catalonia and one that will not be relinquished”.

In his speech, the President explained the Catalan Government’s aim of giving “new impetus to foreign action” and “regaining Catalonia’s rightful place on the international stage,” in accordance with the principles of “utility, credibility and reputation” in order to position Catalonia as an international actor capable of contributing “solutions to major global challenges”. President Aragonès furnished details of the three primary lines of work presented to the Council. In addition to the deployment of the network of delegations, the major priorities will be the allocation of 0.7% of Catalonia’s gross national income to development cooperation and the establishment of frameworks for foreign action in key areas such as the European Union and the Mediterranean.

For her part, Minister Serret said that“the Catalan Government’s foreign action is guided by our desire for more and better Catalonia in the world. We want to be useful not only to the people of Catalonia, but also to our counterparts, to gain credibility and to improve Catalonia’s reputation in the world”.

The fact that Catalonia is enjoying a resurgence in its international presence is borne out by the intensity of Aragonès’s foreign agenda in the first two years of his presidency: a total of 14 trips to 12 countries, holding high-level meetings with various national governments, participating in international summits, consolidating relations with multilateral international bodies and resuming direct dealings with European institutions. Examples include the President’s recent tour of Latin America, meetings with the European Commission, the signing of a collaboration agreement with UNESCO, participation in COP26 in Glasgow and speeches at UN forums. For her part, in the last six months, Minister Serret has made 13 trips to 10 countries, paying special attention to Europe’s de facto capital, Brussels, given the strategic importance of the European Union to Catalonia’s foreign action policy.

In her address to the attendees of the meeting of the Council for Foreign Action and European Union Relations, Serret also underscored the importance of consensus to her Ministry, given that“foreign action may be led by the government, but it is achieved by all of us acting together”. “Today we have explicitly stated that we will only move forward with our plans with the broad consensus of Catalan society,” she added.

The Minister cited by way of example the “crucial consensus” built with development cooperation bodies in relation to the path towards guaranteeing the allocating of 0.7% of Catalonia’s resources to cooperation efforts.

The Council for Foreign Action and European Union Relations

The Council for Foreign Action and European Union Relations is the participatory body responsible for monitoring Catalonia’s foreign action policy with local bodies and civil society organisations. Its purview covers processes such as the preparation of the document presented today at the La Llotja de Mar: the Strategic Plan for Foreign Action and European Union Relations 2023-2026.

The Council is made up of 30 members representing local bodies and civil society organisations with international activity, in addition to 2 representatives of the Catalan community abroad. President Aragonès is currently its chair, with Minister Serret as first vice-chair and the Secretary for Foreign Action, Miquel Royo, as second vice-chair. Other members include the Director General for the Institutional Representation of the Government Abroad and the European Union, Gerard Vives; the Director General for Foreign Action, Anna Dotor; the Director General for the Catalan Community Abroad, Rafael Caballeria; and the Director General for Development Cooperation, Yoya Alcoceba.

A key document for Catalan foreign action

The Strategic Plan for Foreign Action and European Union Relations 2023-2026 sets out Catalonia’s foreign action priorities and goals for the coming years. In this respect, it is a key instrument for the planning and coordination of Catalan foreign action and relations with the European Union and reflects the aim of enhancing Catalonia’s international influence and standing in the world.

Over the course of the next four years, the Catalan Government’s priority will be to reinforce the structure of its foreign action in order to guarantee the consistency and coordination of Catalonia’s relations with the rest of the world. Specifically, the plan aims to strengthen foreign action coordination initiatives, equip them with the resources necessary for effective foreign action, intensify relations built on long-term trust with Catalonia’s partners and other counterparts, and guarantee the stable presence of the Government of Catalonia and the stakeholders from Catalan civil society in multilateral spaces and forums.

The plan is currently in its final stages of preparation. It was presented to the Council for Foreign Action and European Union Relations today with the aim of continuing to build consensus around the major strategic lines for the next four years set out in the document with the various stakeholders involved in Catalan foreign action. Once completed, the plan will be subject in the following weeks to the approval of the Government of Catalonia and, subsequently, that of the Parliament of Catalonia.