“Today we have shown that we remain united, it is the unity that gives us strength.” Antonio Garamendi, CEOE president, has exhibited an image of the closing of the ranks of the business world in the General Assembly of the employers after the controversy generated by his words about the pardons. Garamendi expressed in an interview that, if the pardons to the Catalan independentistas served to normalize the situation, “welcome” they were, which earned him a torrent of criticism. Both from some businessmen, as well as from the extreme right of Vox in a public way and the PP in a more discreet way. Garamendi later clarified his words, insisting that they were not support for the measure approved by the Government, but this Wednesday he stressed that there are “some” who “insist” on taking it out of context.
The president of the CEOE, on pardons: “If things normalize, welcome them”
“I am very grateful for this closed support, I really appreciate it,” the president of the CEOE employers’ association has repeated on several occasions to the auditorium of the General Assembly of businessmen. At the beginning of the act, Garamendi even broke down crying during the long applause given to him by the attendees, standing, as this video published by Cadena Ser collects.
“I must admit that I have had some very bad days. I honestly say it, it is a genuinely unfair issue,” he said. His words in a TVE interview last week were widely interpreted as an endorsement by the employers of the pardons that the Executive of Pedro Sánchez was going to approve. An alleged support for which criticism rained down on the Basque businessman, both from some colleagues and those represented, as well as from the Spanish right.
In Vox they have forcefully attacked Antonio Garamendi for “betraying” his clients, in the words of their leader, Santiago Abascal. In the PP the criticisms have not been personalized or direct in public by Pablo Casado, although the PP leader has made statements that have been interpreted as a message to the business leader. Also to the Catalan businessmen, who positioned themselves in favor of the measure without ambiguity. “The businessmen do not represent anyone. Sovereignty resides in deputies and senators,” Casado pointed out in Onda Cero.
“There will be many accomplices [de los indultos], which are only those who from political parties are applauding this measure and, lately also, those who from civil society try to say that this measure is aimed at reunion, harmony and coexistence “, has also expressed the leader of the PP.
The CEOE president has stressed that the employer’s association always acts with “total independence” and with the defense of the “constitutional framework”, the “rule of law” and the “rule of law”. “Whoever knows me knows what I have defended, what I say and have always said,” he pointed out. This week the president of CEOE already expressly pointed out that his words were not support for the pardons. “I do not say the phrase of the pardons, if it is a confusion on my part I ask for forgiveness, or if it could be understood in another way,” he said.
Garamendi has left two messages to those people who continue to criticize him for this reason. The first, that “it does not matter” what he says, that these voices are still “determined” that he said “something else”, and secondly, that the employers act and will continue to act with “institutional loyalty” with the government and the rest of the administrations. “It is difficult to talk about the Constitution and the Rule of Law if later we do not want to have respect and institutional collaboration.”
Taxes “a la Madrileña” and “frontal opposition” in the labor reform
The speech of the president of the employer’s association has also addressed other current political issues, such as the pension agreement. Garamendi has affirmed that “the music sounds good”, but has indicated that it will be necessary to see the small letter of the text. The forecast is that The Government closes with the social agents the first package of the pension reform next Monday.
Regarding other less advanced negotiations, the CEOE leader has stressed that for the moment businessmen maintain a “frontal opposition” on the dismantling of the labor reform of the Mariano Rajoy government. This is addressed in a table for the modernization of the labor market that also aims to reduce temporary contracts, with measures that do not convince employers either. “There is a lot of ideology in the papers that come to us. Of course we are going to sit down, but as they arise, we see it complicated,” said Garamendi, who has criticized that the reform “creates a context of uncertainty” for companies.
The CEOE leader has wanted to establish a position in advance in the tax debate, which the Executive has not yet opened with the social agents. “If someone wants to harmonize, let them harmonize with the Madrid one. I say this clearly,” Antonio Garamendi pointed out, supporting the model of less taxes in Madrid compared to other Autonomous Communities.
The businessman stressed that CEOE wants “more tax bases and lower tax rates.” Spain is far behind the tax burden compared to the euro zone average, almost seven points difference, but the business leader is betting that more people pay taxes, not that existing ones are increased. “That will improve economic activity,” he said. “We want it to be paid, but if the intention is to raise taxes, we believe that it is not the appropriate line.”
Antonio Garamendi has also defended the importance of social dialogue in these months and has vindicated the agreements in the extensions of the ERTE. “Six very complicated extensions in which we have defended the interests of the companies,” he stressed. From now on, the business leader has considered “key” direct aid to companies, which are managed through the Autonomous Communities.