The current president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, is to travel to Brussels next week to meet with president in exile Carles Puigdemont and other Catalan MEPs. The visit by Aragonès will begin with a meeting with the pro-independence leader in exile on Wednesday at 6:30pm. The next day, he will meet with representatives of Junts, ERC, the PSC and Catalunya en Comú Podem in the European Parliament to "address the great consensuses" of Catalonia, the presidency department said in a statement. According to Aragonès's agenda, no other meeting with senior officials of the European Union institutions is planned. The trip takes place amid tensions in the Catalan government over the absence of a consensus on Catalan language policy in schools.
Meeting with Puigdemont
Aragonès will visit Puigdemont in exile and the next day he will meet with MEPs from several parties. The press statement on the institutional trip to Brussels explains that meetings which will be held "to discuss the great consensuses of the country" with various political representatives, both of pro-independence views and not, are part of what the president had "announced he would do in the address he gave in March", coinciding with the first anniversary of the Catalan elections that brought the ERC party candidate to the presidency after the victory of the pro-independence bloc. The announcement of the visit comes at an extremely delicate point for Aragonès's party and its governing partners, Junts. This time, tensions have arisen as a result of differences over how the Catalan High Court's requirement for a 25% Spanish language quota in Catalan classrooms should be addressed immediately. After distancing itself from the joint proposal signed with the ERC, the Comuns and the PSC, Junts has prepared an alternative to that language law reform, which controversially included the acceptance, for the first time, of Spanish as a vehicular language in Catalan schools. However, the contents of the Junts alternative have not yet been made public, and ERC, the Socialists and the alternative left continue to push for the previously-agreed proposal to be passed.
After days of argumentative exchanges with ERC, the spokesperson for Junts, Josep Rius, called on the party's coalition partners today to join its new alternative to reforming the language policy law. At the same time, the Junts politician did not want to give away anything about the content of the party's proposal, arguing that it would first be presented to the government and then to the other parties and civil society groups. In statements to Catalunya Ràdio, Rius admitted that both Junts and ERC have the same wish, "to protect Catalan", but that they are doing so from "different approaches"; and that is why he is confident in convincing ERC to join the Junts proposal. Junts announced on Thursday that it was definitively separating itself from the agreement with ERC, the PSC and the Comuns to reform the Catalan language policy law as a response to the Catalan High Court ruling which stated that 25% of all classes had to be taught in Spanish. Junts announced it was leaving the pact "because there is no consensus with the education sector and the organizations that act in defence of the language, and because it will not stop a court decision which imposes a 25% Spanish language quota in the classrooms". "We will not adapt a language policy law to comply with an unfair sentence," Rius said.
For his part, the president of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, regretted this Friday "that for partisan reasons [Junts] have decide to give up what they have always defended", said Junqueras in a conference at the Forum Europa Tribuna Catalunya, where he advocated the need to work and build consensus, attributing Junts's position on the Catalan agreement to the interests of "part of a party".