The climate of confrontation and distrust between the Government and the Generalitat de Catalua, but also the strategic differences within the two executives between their respective partners (PSOE and Podemos, on the one hand; ERC and JxCat, on the other) , took to the fret an expansion of the El Prat airport that was budgeted at 1,700 million euros.
The project, on the other hand, had been well received by almost all Catalan business and industrial sectors, for which it represents a boost for commerce and tourism in that autonomous community. Both the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce like the employer Foment del Treball they applauded the agreement for the expansion at the time. The 1,700 million euros of planned investment represented double what the State destined to Catalonia in 2020. The expansion was going to last about ten years, generate about 85,000 jobs and it was going to raise the weight of El Prat to 8.9% of Catalan GDP.
An investment designed to convert the aerodrome of the Catalan capital in an international hub, as demanded for years by the employers and the economic sector as a measure of reactivation of the battered economy of this autonomous region. However, the announcement made yesterday in Barcelona by the Minister of Transport and Mobility, Raquel Snchez, of the suspension of the expansion of the airport due to lack of support in the Government confirmed the end, at least momentary, of a project that was born burdened by the political discrepancies.
Decisive in this drastic decision by the Government was the press conference held on Wednesday morning by the ERC spokesperson, Marta Vilalta, announcing that the party and some republican members of the Government were going to attend the demonstration that on September 19 It will be held in Barcelona against the reform project, called by environmental associations and some town councils in the area in defense of La Ricarda, a wetland area that will disappear with the expansion.
In Moncloa and in the direction of the PSC, different sources consulted confirm, they understood these words as the definitive confirmation by the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragons, of the breaking of the agreement reached on August 2 for the works in El Prat. So they decided to make the public announcement of the suspension to indicate the “responsibility” of the Republicans in the abrupt end of the operation and leave the ball on the roof of the Generalitat.
However, the Catalan vice president, Jordi PuignerHe has affirmed that he has not “broken any agreement” nor has he said that he will go to the demonstration. This has been assured in an interview in ‘Rac1’. “I have expressed my discomfort and my anger at the confusion that this case may have generated, and that certain people, in Catalonia, have made and publicly manifested a position that could put the agreement into question,” he declared.
This is the first great disagreement between the socialists and ERC, to few days after the bilateral negotiation table was held in Barcelona and when the independence movement demands the presence of Pedro Snchez. The reaction of the ‘president’ Aragons to the announcement of Minister Sánchez showed the mutual distrust of two governments that know that, despite everything, they need each other. “It has been verified that AENA and the Spanish Government were only willing to make the expansion if it was as they intended from the beginning. This confirms the need for Catalonia to decide its political future, we cannot accept this model of permanent imposition”, wrote on his Twitter account.
Despite this crossing of accusations between Moncloa and the Palau de la Generalitat, ERC’s change of position with respect to the agreement reached on August 2, which Aragons celebrated at that time as a very important investment for Catalonia, is conditioned above all by the war that it maintains within the independence movement with JxCat and the need not to appear as the priority partner of the Government of Spain.
In the last few months, the management of ERC has received complaints and pressures from territorial leaders and party members who do not understand their support for the Executive Pedro Sánchez and that they have been warned that if they do not mark clear distances there is a danger of losing the support of a significant part of their voters.
Likewise, the position radically against the CUP and the commons of Ada Colau to the expansion of the airport designed by AENA, alleging the environmental impact in the Llobregat Delta, conditioned the change of mind of the party chaired by Oriol Junqueras. With the Generalitat’s budgets still to be agreed, after several years with the accounts extended, Aragons’ intention is to reach an agreement with these two formations to dilute the “neoliberal” influence of the Ecomoma advisor, Jaume Gir.
In their attempt to gradually configure a sovereignist and left-wing majority, the Republicans cannot afford, if they want to seek the support of the CUP and the commons for the 2022 budgets, a confrontation with the two formations in a folder as sensitive and meditative as the expansion of El Prat, and that even opens cracks within the central government between the PSOE and Podemos.
The rejection of the mayor of Barcelona to the AENA project has found the support of the ministers of Podemos, and in what is a clear provocation to the socialists, this very Thursday the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Daz, visit with Colau La Ricarda, the natural area threatened by the airport reform.
“A missed opportunity”
The Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Rachel Sanchez, has ruled out this Thursday that the expansion of the Barelona-El Prat Airport can be resumed in this legislature, after the announcement of the investment stoppage. “It is a missed opportunity,” he lamented.
In an interview on the Ser chain, Snchez has indicated that “under these conditions” they cannot take the project to the Council of Ministers of September 28, the deadline according to the minister, to approve the Airport Regulation Document (Dora) that includes the investments for the period 2022-2026. According to these deadlines, the expansion work will culminate in 2031. “We lose the opportunity to include it in this forecast document,” he assured.
“Evidently nor there is scope to do it in this legislature, It is an opportunity that we lose “, has indicated.
Holds responsibility for the statements of Aragons
The minister has blamed the paralysis of the investment on the change of criteria of the Government of the Generalitat after having sealed an agreement with Vice President Jordi Puigner (Junts), presented on August 2.
“An investment like this requires a firm consensus and the joint action of both administrations, something that does not occur due to the change of criteria of the government, “he indicated.
Thus, it has pointed out that the cancellation was motivated by the manifestations of the President of the Generalitat Pere Aragons (ERC) and on the part of the Catalan government, in which they have seen that the position was not “mature” and there was no “clear consensus” as the terms of the agreement have been broken.
In addition, he has pointed out that members of the Catalan Executive said they would attend the demonstration against the project shows that “it does not make any sense” to affirm that “it is time to carry it out.”
The 1,700 million cannot be dedicated to other projects
In addition, Snchez has assured that the 1,700 million foreseen for this work cannot be assigned to another project since it is AENA’s budget that was generated through the airport charges that could be generated with a greater arrival of international flights. “If that project is not given, those rates that allow investment are not generated.”
On the other hand, it has reiterated that the rest of the investment magazines are maintained for the airports of Reus (Tarragona) and Girona-Costa Brava and also for the improvement of the high speed in Girona and the line around Reus airport.
Aena suggests that it be analyzed “within five years”
The president of Aena, Maurici Lucena, has proposed this Thursday to analyze again the project to expand the Barcelona-El Prat Airport “in five years, if the circumstances in Catalonia have changed and there is a political substrate that sees this investment as more appropriate “reports Europa Press.
“The proposed investment for Barcelona is on hold until a new window of regulatory opportunity opens, which is five years from now,” he stated in an interview with Catalunya Rdio collected by Europa Press, after the Minister of Transport announced that the Government suspend the investment for the expansion of the airport.
Lucena has accused the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragons, of rejecting and “deforming” Through public statements the same Barcelona Airport expansion project that the Vice President of the Generalitat, Jordi Puigner, accepted at the beginning of August in a meeting with the Government.
“On August 2 we were all very happy. We knew that there was a lot of work to be done, but we had reached an agreement”, after the analyzes that he has assured that they made jointly with the Generalitat, the Government and local agents.
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