- The head of the Executive began his institutional visit to Brussels with a meeting with the European Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, to discuss the distribution of European funds and deficit targets
event_note Press Release
The President of the Government, Pere Aragonès, said this morning from Brussels that the institutional trip to the European capital today and tomorrow will mean"the complete return to normal relations between the Government of Catalonia and the European Commission". The President emphasised that this return to normal relations has begun during his presidency, and that, with the four meetings taking place over these two days, a total of "14 high-level meetings" will have been held with five different members of the EC: ten commissioners, vice-presidents, and the president herself. "Today Catalonia meets once again with the European Commission, a demonstration that the interests of the country's citizens are being well defended," remarked Aragonès.
The first of the four meetings with European commissioners that the President will hold during this two-day institutional trip was with the commissioner responsible for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni. At the meeting, which was also attended by the Minister for Economy and Finance, Natàlia Mas, the Government expressed"Catalonia's will and commitment to participate fully in European economic governance".
As Aragonès explained to the media afterwards, they conveyed to Commissioner Gentiloni the need to have a say on issues such as the NextGenerationEU funds and the reduction of the public deficit and debt.
With regard to the Next Generation funds, the head of the Executive highlighted that, when it comes to calls for proposals "where Catalonia's capacity, talent and possibilities are valued, the results have been positive". However, when political decisions come into play, "we encounter a recentralisation of funds that hinders our full potential". For this reason, he reiterated that "Catalonia is fully committed to the objectives of European strategic autonomy" and that initiatives are being promoted in the fields of semiconductors, renewable energies and quantum computing, among others.
The Minister for Economy and Finance, for her part, regretted that a "historic opportunity" such as the NextGenerationEU funds is being managed in Spain in a "100% centralised" manner, unlike in other European countries. The result of this centralisation is that 72% of the major calls for proposals for industry in Spain "have not been applied for. Reindustrialising Europe and regaining strategic autonomy is a very relevant issue," warned Mas. The minister reminded the audience that the Generalitat de Catalunya has proposed to the Spanish government that the funds from calls that have not been applied for be managed directly by the autonomous regions. In the case of Catalonia, with a significant accredited expertise in the sector that would facilitate the deployment of the NextGenerationEU funds, this would entail management by the Catalan Government of "approximately 1.8 billion euros".
With regard to the role of governments such as Catalonia's in the distribution of the deficit targets, the president asked the commissioner to "take into account Catalonia's powers when it comes to assigning fiscal rules", because the country "must have sufficient funds to implement them"."It is absolutely essential that this multi-level governance be taken into account, "she remarked.
Mas also expressed the need to distribute the public deficit targets in a different way from how it is done in Spain. The Spain has kept for itself 2.9 of the 3 percentage points of deficit authorised by the European Commission, despite the fact that, in the case of Catalonia, "the Catalan Government is responsible for 32% of public expenditure," said Mas. An expenditure that she described as "very important" because it affects vital areas such as health, education and research, among others. The distribution of these fiscal rules, the minister claimed, "must be reasonably proportional to the expenditure of each administration".