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The Catalan government is not hiding its skepticism about the proposals made by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez to tackle the coronavirus crisis and the recovery afterwards, among which is a proposal to establish a broad economic and political pact - as the Spanish Socialist leader described it, a new version of Spain's 1977 Moncloa Pacts at the end of the Franco dictatorship.

This Monday, Catalan presidency minister Meritxell Budó warned that if this proposal by Sánchez proposes "to relaunch the economy with loyalty, cooperation and in concert with Catalonia", the Catalan government would consider it. "But if it is a proposal with the purpose of further centralizing the state, obviously we won't be part of it," she added.

Moreover, the minister stressed the call by Catalan president Quim Torra for the Spanish executive to once again decentralize the powers it assumed under the state of alarm decree.

"A national reconstruction project"

Earlier, Spain's transport minister, José Luis Ábalos, stated that it would not be the Spanish government who would propose "any exclusion" to any political party from the proposed pact. However, he emphasized that it would be necessary for those taking part to "share certain elements", which, he said, the Catalan nationalist parties did in 1977 but may not do now. "The attitude is not the same," he said. Ábalos stressed that such agreements were required "out of a sense of state". They are addressed to all political parties and to all the autonomous presidents.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon from the Moncloa palace, the minister said that this was an "open offer" and "of course everyone who feels concerned can respond to it." He added: "This is a national reconstruction project, to push Spain forward. To the extent that this idea is understood, people will take part or not.'' The same offer he made to the pro-independence parties was also extended to far-right Vox, and to Spain's other right-wing parties, the PP and Ciudadanos. "The Spanish people need to see us politicians working side by side," he said.

Details of what such a pact might entail have not been spelt out. The 1977 Moncloa Pacts took place at a time of serious economic downturn during Spain's political transition at the end of the Franco dictatorship. They guaranteed a series of social and political reforms which favoured democratic rights, such as the freedom of expression, workers' rights and womens' rights, in return for agreements on economic contention and control. They were also signed less than two weeks after the Spanish government had formally reinstated Catalonia's principal institution of self-government, the Generalitat.