The representatives of the Catalan government on the so-called Table of Dialogue and Negotiation on the Political Conflict between Spain and Catalonia do not have much reason to be particularly satisfied after the meeting that took place this Wednesday at the Palau de la Moncloa in Madrid. The calendar agreed in June between Spanish minister Bolaños and his Catalan counterpart Vilagrà has been fulfilled: there has been a meeting between the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the president of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, and the agreed dialogue table meeting - the third - between the two governments has also now taken place. Another thing entirely is the fact that that table of dialogue and negotiation between the governments - which had the objectives, at least on the Catalan side, of addressing the amnesty, the calling of an agreed referendum and the issue of self-determination - is slipping dangerously into issues that should, in principle, be dealt with in some other government debate forum and not this one, bearing in mind that there are numerous joint committees and this table had a very specific focus.
Catalan ministers Laura Vilagrà (presidency), Roger Torrent (business), Joan Ignasi Elena (interior) and Natàlia Garriga (culture), all of them from ERC - since the members of Junts are still not part of the table as their delegation was not accepted because it included Jordi Turull and Jordi Sànchez, not part of the Catalan government and, also, freed from prison provisionally thanks to a partial and reviewable pardon - returned to Barcelona with a package of commitments and future agreements. The commitment is to put into effect a dejudicialization in the future, based on legislative reforms in Congress - without foreseeing the modification of the offences of rebellion and sedition in the Penal Code. And the agreement for the protection and promotion of the Catalan language, which includes trying to ensure that languages other than Spanish can be spoken in Spain's Senate and asking the European Parliament to consider Catalan as a language of use for full sessions of the European Parliament.
Perhaps of all that has been agreed, the most straightforward proposal is the use of Catalan in the Senate. This is an old political battle for Catalonia, with minimal economic cost, which would recognize that there are other official languages in Spain and it is one that the PSOE could implement whenever it wants, given that it would find the political majorities sufficient to be able to do so. To move forward, it simply requires the favourable political will of the Socialists. But let's be clear: when the independence movement thought up the negotiation table with the Spanish government, it was not to end up talking about these issues, which one cannot help but notice exude a certain smell of the agenda of the past. It is welcome that Catalan will be spoken in the Senate if the PSOE does not end up retreating on this point, but the whole political conflict that ended up in the referendum on October 1st and the declaration of independence in Parliament will not budge a millimetre from where it is.
We've said it from the first day: dialogue is of little use if it does not lead to an effective negotiation in which the Spanish government recognizes the legitimacy of the other party to advance the demands raised from Catalonia. If not, it ends up being dialogue without listening, since Madrid knows perfectly well how to prolong situations indefinitely without moving in the slightest from its starting point. Or, what's worse, moving in circles to end up in the same place. They are, in fact, experts in controlling time and prolonging negotiations: when it's not a delay because of one election - that of Madrid - it's another - Andalusia - and, if not them, there are new ones ahead - municipal and autonomous votes in May 2023 - and thus, the Spanish legislature in Congress ends in a flash, the reform of the rebellion and sedition offences gets left for another time and the sword of Damocles of the suspension of the pardons of the Catalan political prisoners by the Supreme Court fades in and out without ever completely disappearing.