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After the first meeting of the Spain-Catalonia bilateral commission yesterday, and with the much more weighty meeting of the dialogue table on the horizon - at which the political conflict between Spain and Catalonia will be addressed - Catalan president Pere Aragonès has commented that "nobody said that it would be easy" to construct dialogue with the Spanish state. Aragonès said he welcomed the fact that the bilateral commission had met again after years of abandonment, but also described yesterday's encounter as "insufficient". 

Despite the bitter aftertaste of the bilateral commission meeting, at which only one out of 56 Catalan proposals got the green light, Aragonès was optimistic and affirmed that the government must present itself in negotiations with the state with "the greatest possible ambition". Its goodwill must be accompanied by firm demands, and the president made it clear that the devolution of competences - the core business of the bilateral commission - will not be a "currency of exchange" when addressing the political conflict in Catalonia. "We will be highly demanding and that is why we differentiate the two areas of negotiation, one for the political conflict and another for competences," he said, with reference to the dialogue table and the bilateral commission respectively.

Regarding the dialogue with the Spanish government to address the conflict in Catalonia, which is scheduled to begin in September, Aragonés called once again for the maximum possible support. The president recalled that: "The negotiating table does not make anyone give up other positions." He also acknowledged that the Catalan government is entering a complex negotiation, according to him, "because it is most ambitious and we need all the support we can get."

The airport: "technical criteria"

During his appearance, Pere Aragonès spoke about the controversial agreement reached yesterday to expand the Barcelona-El Prat airport. The president stated that environmental protection will be a key aspect in this project. The expansion of the airport will be subject to an "environmental assessment that will be of a technical nature, therefore, absolute confidence in the technicians."

"We believe that if this airport were managed from Catalonia, the debate would be different," said Aragonès, accusing the Spanish state of building infrastructure "with ideological criteria." Again, Aragonès reiterated that: "We will carry it out applying technical criteria." The need for purely technical criteria to prevail for good economic and environmental management was the cornerstone of the president’s speech on the future of the airport.

New vaccination age-group

The president also made the announcement on the start of vaccination strips for the youngest group so far - the 12-to-15-year-olds. From tomorrow, young people in this age range will be able to make an appointment to get vaccinated. The are about 300,000 Catalans in the age group.

The aim of the new measure is to immunize the youngest "also thinking of educational centres" which return to the classrooms in early September, as the president recalled. “We need to start the school year with greater immunity in schools,” he said.


Main image: Pere Aragonès, president of Catalonia, during his press appearance to assess the end of the political year before the summer holidays / ACN