• The head of the executive said next week could be critical to “change the political landscape in the country” and that Europe is where “we can hope to find the justice we’ve been denied in Spain”
The head of the executive said next week could be critical to 'change the political landscape in the country' and that Europe is where 'we can hope to find the justice we've been denied in Spain'.
The president during the plenary session. Photograph: Jordi Bedmar

The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, said this morning that in negotiations with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) to form a government, “the Catalan government’s commitment is what we expressed on 14 October, after hearing that Catalan leaders had been sentenced to 100 years in prison, when we advocated the exercise of our right to self-determination as the way to decide Catalonia’s political future”.

In response to a question from the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) group during today’s parliamentary control session, the head of the executive stressed the importance of the resolution adopted by the Executive Council on 14 October. Torra said the resolution was agreed by the three pro-independence parliamentary groups to underscore the key issues: “freedom, amnesty, and the exercise of Catalonia’s right to self-determination in the shortest possible timeframe”.

The president noted that the resolution also called on the central government to urgently launch a dialogue. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened,” he said. He also made reference to subsequent developments, such as the Llotja de Mar Declaration, “where we talk about the self-determination of our peoples and civil and political rights, and call for the release of the political prisoners and for the exiles to be free to return home”. Another development the president cited was the formation of the Assembly of Elected Officials of Catalonia, which he said “is calling for dialogue and international mediation to achieve that objective and working to make self-determination possible”.

“Europe is watching Spanish courts with great mistrust”

In response to a question from Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), the head of the government talked about key decisions that will be taken by European courts next week. He said the coming week “could significantly alter the political landscape in this country”. “Our legal victories have come abroad – where the exiles are. That’s where we can hope to find the justice we’ve been denied in Spain,” he said. “Europe is now watching Spanish courts with great mistrust.”

The president also said that next Thursday an appeal lodged by Vice-President Junqueras might enable “three MEPs to gain their rights, with everything that would imply”. According to Torra, “This would have a direct and immediate impact for President Puigdemont and Minister Comín.” “I share the hope that that’s what will happen, that they’ll gain their immunity, and that the political situation can be turned around in a really pivotal way,” he concluded.

Budget to prioritise social spending

At various points during the parliamentary control session, the president stressed the government’s intention to push ahead with a budget that prioritises social spending. “Nearly 80% of expenditure will go to the pillars of social welfare that sustain our country.” Torra said the top priority is “the most disadvantaged people, those who are at risk of being left behind and who can’t move forward with their life and professional projects”.  

The president said the budget being put forward by the government will increase spending on health, social affairs and education by nearly €2.5 billion.

In response to a question from the left-wing En Comú Podem party concerning the situation of the Catalan public health system, the president said the government is working on a decree to address the problem of waiting lists, stressing that a new budget was essential to tackle this problem and others that Catalonia faces.