Pere Aragonès, the Catalan vice-president who is now acting president, will not attend the awards ceremony at the Barcelona New Economy Week business event this Friday, where the presence of the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the king, Felipe VI, has been announced. Sources in the vice-presidency have confirmed to the ACN agency that Aragonès, who is also Catalan economy and finance minister, will stay away from the specific event at which the monarch will be present, as the Catalan government has done on the previous occasions that the Bourbon king has set foot in Catalonia.
The same sources explain that Pere Aragonès's team declined the invitation by the organization several days ago, before the entire list of participants in the event was made public. Once the presence of Sánchez and Felipe VI became known, they maintained their position of non-attendance.
This meeting between Sánchez and Felipe VI comes a week after the conflict that broke out between the Spanish government and the royal palace when the executive vetoed the king's presence in Barcelona at the graduation ceremony for new Spanish judges.
The vice-president will not be the only guest who has decided not to attend this event graced by the head of the Spanish government and the head of state. The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has also decided to snub Felipe VI and Sánchez in Barcelona, asserting that she will not participate "in the protocol acts of the King until the royal house gives the explanations which it has to give", said Colau in statements to local broadcaster Betevé.
Tension over the monarch's visit
Before the king's visit on Friday, the pro-independence CDR protest groups from the Barcelona area have called a mobilization. "This Friday, the leader of the regime of '78, Felipe de Bourbon, lands in Barcelona together with Pedro Sánchez. The CDRs will be on the street to remind him that he is not welcome," they alerted, via Twitter, without giving further details of protest plans, as they await more information on the monarch's specific agenda.
Catalan Socialist deputy leader Eva Granados believes it is “very necessary” for the Catalan government to attend the awards ceremony. Granados asserted that "if the agenda allows it", the executive must be present, "especially in order to give recognition to the companies in the new economy". After the deputy secretary of ERC, Marta Vilalta, had said that the government would consider the question of its participation in the event, Granados responded that "Aragonés is the highest representative of the State in Catalonia". After Felipe VI's absence from the new judges' graduation on September 25th, the Socialists now frame this visit as "normal".
The visit of Spain's king and PM to Barcelona
Barcelona New Economy Week is a business-to-business event with physical and digital dimensions, which features events involving the sectors of logistics, real estate, digital industries, and e-commerce. The king and Sánchez are to attend the final day of this four-day congress, which begins tomorrow, Tuesday. More than 300 guests will speak, and the event will be broadcast live.
Both of the Spanish governmental figures will also visit the start-up 3D Factory Incubator, Europe's first high-tech 3D printing incubator.