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I don't know who came up with the idea being pushed by Together for Catalonia (Junts) of opening a debate on the possibility of punishing the Catalan companies that moved their business addresses out of Catalonia in 2017, if the Spanish government decree passed at that time by Mariano Rajoy's executive to facilitate their relocation is struck out, and they still do not return to Catalonia. In fact, it has all the appearance of having been promoted by someone who is an enemy of the party. It does not originate with any independent businessperson close to Junts, because those to whom I have spoken show only astonishment and anger at the plan. It is also a surprise because this political proposal was not in the script after Junts gave its investiture votes to the Socialists (PSOE) in a move which helped to rebuild the pro-independence party's bridges with the Catalan business world. And yet the party's spokesperson, Josep Rius, has affirmed this policy at least twice in less than 24 hours and, therefore, when Junts voices say that they "support the offering of incentives for companies that return, and for those who do not, punishments", it would seem to be the official version.

It is not surprising that Xavier Trias, the winner of the last Barcelona municipal election, has spun round in his city councillor's seat and shown a red card to his own party: "I do not agree with punishing companies, nor with giving them prizes". Trias is in favour of "reducing the cockroaches" and explaining to the firms that the situation has changed since 2017. Business organizations of all colours have also spoken out in public against the move or else have privately voiced their disagreement, such as FemCat. The only thing this type of threat can do is encourage any company that might have opened an incipient debate on a possible return, not to speed it up, but rather to back out again.

The only thing this type of threat can do is encourage any company that might have opened an incipient debate on a possible return, not to speed it up, but rather to back out again

There is the possibility that Junts has directly shot himself in the foot in the middle of another serious and deep debate about what is being done this Wednesday with the validation of the three decrees that the Pedro Sánchez government has presented to parliament, which affect issues as different as the transfer of the minimum vital income to Catalonia, a possible invasion of competences or a modification of the law of civil trials, which, according to Puigdemont's party, could leave in abeyance the application of the amnesty by the mere act of a preliminary question being presented to the European courts. The Spanish government insists that this is a fuss over nothing and that, in the end, it is a demand from Brussels which is mandatory if they want to receive EU financial aid. The Republican Left (ERC) takes a position similar to that of the PSOE.

It is, then, a battle which Junts has started alone and which is now difficult to solve. To take a step back from its stand is to risk its credibility and suffer political damage after all the speeches that have been made in the last few days. For the PSOE to withdraw the decrees and process them as ordinary legislative bills is something you might expect it to do, but it is regarded as all or nothing by the Socialists, as it would show enormous fragility right at the start. Perhaps someone thought that the return of companies to Catalonia could be used as a smoke screen to change the debate on the validation of the decrees. But in the end, all it has done is create a second front, having already opened the first one wide. What is certain is that during this Wednesday, until the vote, which will take place very late, negotiations over the three decrees could take place, with two parties also having a good part of their future credibility in play.