Catalan businessmen have unambiguously supported the pardons that the Government of Spain has granted to the prisoners of the ‘procés’, perhaps thinking that this could be the beginning of a
new stage that allows Catalonia to recover the economic weight lost in these years. And it is that the uncertainty generated by the unilateral declaration of independence by the then Catalan Government has had perverse effects for the Catalan economy.
The first consequence was the transfer of the headquarters of the main companies in the region, and from Spain to other parts of the country: CaixaBank, Banco Sabadell, Gas Natural, Naturgy, Abertis, Colonial, Cellnex, Grupo Planeta, Axa, Codorníu. .. and so
a long list of companies from all sectors fled the community due to the legal uncertainty generated. Almost four years later, the big ones that have returned are counted on the fingers of one hand. And the total balance is still negative for the community. Since October 2017, 7,007 companies have left Catalonia and 2,509 have arrived, resulting in a negative balance of almost 4,500 firms.
When in those first days of October 2017 the big businessmen began to move the headquarters of their companies, I was convinced that we were facing the beginning of the end of the ‘procés’. La pela is la pela, I thought, and the Catalan bourgeoisie is not going to allow them to ruin their economy. I was probably wrong. I do not know what happened to that ‘seny’ of Catalan nationalism, which agreed to the left and to the right (more to the right than to the left, I must admit) to help carry out the State Budgets – in exchange for stability and a few billions in investments for the region–; or to enact tax laws that would lower taxes on its many prosperous companies. Faced with the moderation of that bourgeoisie, the radicalism of those who only want self-determination and independence has prevailed. The problem is that this ideology permeates everything and they are practically not discordant. And we are seeing it with the issue of pardons. Not only the employers, the unions and even the Catalan Church have given their approval to the Government’s decision to pardon the politicians imprisoned for their defiance of the State. And also the Government of Spain and of all Spaniards does not grant the pardon as the point and end of a negotiation, the bargaining chip so that the independentistas return to the path of legality and legal security. It is a starting point for nothing. No regret, no commitment not to commit a crime again … In fact, the first words of the prisoners when they left jail have been to say that they will do it again. That is why for most Spaniards it is so difficult to understand this decision of the Government.
I fear that the pardons, far from contributing to the recovery of the once prosperous Catalan economy, will only serve to embolden the coup plotters and generate more uncertainty. As long as the Government does not return to institutional normality and undertakes to remain within the law, there will be no legal security in the region. And that is a long way from coming as we are seeing at the Mobile World Congress that was held this week in Barcelona. The slights that the Catalan president has made to Felipe VI, head of the Spanish State, do not go unnoticed among fearful money that above all seeks security. Either the scenario changes a lot, or the pardons will be no more than a sum and the deterioration of Catalonia continues.
Since the Government declared the independence of Catalonia in October 2017, more than 7,000 signatures have left the community, and barely 2,500 have returned. Or what is the same, in these four years the region has lost about 4,500 companies.