Catalan business organizations have plunged into the debate about the political situation as it had not been for several years. Concern about the increase in tension in recent months, and especially since the Supreme Court ruling against imprisoned independence leaders, has led them to consider becoming an active force again, after several years of organic passivity, as a result of the loss of their traditional channels of political expression, related parties and the preponderant position they enjoyed when it came to discussing economic matters. It also weighed the moral blow of the stampede of social headquarters after the October 1, 2017 referendum, which left many without moral strength to publicly endorse their views. The Catalan economic world is redefining its role in political life and is now taking its first steps in this new phase.
These days, Quim Torra, the president of the Generalitat, has continued his round of contacts with economic agents, mainly business. The economic agenda of Palau was activated after the act of Foment and Pimec held last October and in which a manifesto was approved in which, among other things, legal security and mobility guarantees were demanded, as well as urging Pedro Sánchez and Torra to "lead a negotiated exit to the conflict."
Torra has met with the president of Pimec, Josep González; by Cecot, Antoni Abad and Fira de Barcelona, Pau Relat. Next week he will do it with the union leaders, Xavier Pacheco, of CC.OO. and Camil Ros, from UGT. Previously, he had had an encounter with the president of the employer's association Foment, Josep Sánchez Llibre, in a meeting in which the business leader expressed to his interlocutor his enormous concern about the political situation and the drift of street protests after the sentence. Sánchez Llibre transmitted to his colleagues in Foment the disappointment after the conversation, because from it he deduced that the president of the Generalitat did not contemplate any political action to reassure the environment and provide the stability demanded by economic agents.
The previous week, the president had met with Josep Sánchez Llibre, head of Foment
In the case of businessmen who have come to Palau after Sánchez Llibre to Palau, the feeling is less dramatic. according to the information collected by this newspaper. They have transmitted to Torras his analysis of the moment, also with great concerns, although relativizing its severity, depending on the case.
The leaders of Pimec and Cecot, the latter integrated in Foment, represent associations mostly of small businesses, in general closer to sovereignty than those that are directly part of the large employers that Sánchez Llibre presides. Also, more linked to local or directly exporting markets, even on a small scale, towards the European market, and therefore less dependent on Spanish. They fear less the consequences of Catalan political dynamics on their sales in the rest of Spain, just the opposite of what happens to many of the medium and large companies.
According to one of the participants in the meetings, Torra has been more concerned about the economic effects of political tension than he did in the first meeting with the president of Foment and has announced that his main objective now in this field is to approve the Budget of the Generalitat for 2020, with the hope of obtaining the support of the deputies of Catalonia in Comú, recognizing that if the Parlament's support for the accounts was not achieved, it would be very difficult not to call elections. The result of today's election day will be key to the progress of these Budgets.
Business approaches to Sánchez have been unsuccessful for the election campaign
Business representatives have also included in their list of actions for a Government that actually manages, in addition to stability demands, critical objectives such as improving the financing of the Generalitat. key to address aspects such as infrastructure investment.
Apart from contacts with Torra, there have also been movements towards the other President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez. Although in this case, being in office, until the unknowns are cleared with today's momentous vote, the efforts have been practically testimonial, an obvious recognition of the concern caused by the Catalan situation in Moncloa and little else .
Finally, Javier Faus, the president of the other great Catalan economic organization, Cercle d'Economia, met last Wednesday with the president of the Valencian Generalitat, Ximo Puig, days after having done so with the Basque lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu . For some time now, Catalan businessmen have sought, with more or less fortune, to weave complicities with those of those two territories. The community of interests around the development of the Mediterranean corridor and a certain harmony in the analysis of the financing difficulties of the two territories has placed Valencia at the top of the list of priorities of the foreign policy of Catalan businessmen.