The Government argues that the demands raised by the ‘president’ are already among its priorities for the summit
MADRID, 18 Jan. (.) –
The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonés, will only participate in the reception of the French delegation headed by Emmanuel Macron at the Spanish-French summit that Barcelona is hosting this Thursday, without any formal meeting with the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, being planned, according to Moncloa sources have indicated.
The role of Aragonés, along with the one that will also be the mayoress of Barcelona, Ada Colau, will be the same that has been reserved for other regional presidents and local officials in summits of this type with other countries in other cities, the sources have pointed out, stressing that this is limited to greeting the delegation on duty, in this case the French, but in no case intervene in the meeting itself.
Likewise, the sources have indicated that a meeting between Aragonés and Sánchez is not expected, although both will foreseeably have the opportunity to chat while they await Macron’s arrival at the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC), which will host this event.
Both the Spanish and French governments have also downplayed the fact that Catalan civil society organizations have called a demonstration to coincide with the summit attended by leaders of ERC, Junts and the CUP.
In Moncloa they do not believe that this act of protest could overshadow the meeting, given its relevance since a new Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Spain and France will be signed, with which the two countries want to further raise the level of their excellent bilateral relationship and provide it with a new legal framework. For now, Spain only has a treaty like this with Portugal while France only has it with Germany and Italy.
THE INDEPENDENTIST MANIFESTATION DOES NOT WORRY
The pro-independence demonstration in Paris does not seem to worry either. Sources from the Élysée have indicated that there is no reason to worry about the possibility that the protest could divert attention and they have not wanted to rule on whether with the election in Barcelona the Government has wanted to end the ‘procés’.
In this sense, both governments have defended that the choice of Barcelona is appropriate because it will be this city from which the future hydroduct of the H2MED project will start, which will reach Marseille and because of the strong presence of French people in Barcelona — some 50,000, with some of which will be seen precisely on Thursday afternoon Macron–.
On the other hand, from Moncloa they have indicated that a large part of the demands raised by the president of the Generalitat in the letter he sent to Sánchez last week on the issues to be discussed at the summit are already among the priorities that the Government has been defending in his contacts with France and that will be addressed at the summit, since these are issues of concern.
Thus, the sources have confirmed that there will be talk of interconnections of all kinds, both energy and rail and road, although they have clarified that there will be no news regarding the H2MED green hydrogen corridor project, since they are waiting for the European Commission decides if it will finance part of it.
Regarding Aragonés’s request that the official status of Catalan in the European institutions be discussed with France, the Government has indicated that it is an issue that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in charge of and that it has already addressed on several occasions in its contacts with the neighboring country, without going into more detail.
BORDER PASSES CLOSED
Another of the issues of interest for Catalonia that will be discussed will be the border crossings closed by France since January 2021. The Government insists that they be reopened as soon as possible and this has been transferred to France, but in Paris for the moment They don’t think that’s possible.
Sources from the Élysée have confirmed that there are still nine secondary crossings with Spain closed and have specified that the terrorist threat for which they were closed persists as well as the problem of the secondary movements of immigrants, although the situation is regularly evaluated and in fact there have been reopened many of those that were closed.
In this sense, the sources of the French Presidency have indicated that the creation of a working group on migration provided for in the new Treaty of Friendship as well as the future formation of “mixed operational units for border issues” could in the future help unravel this issue.
In Moncloa they have not wanted to see in this a conditionality for the reopening, using the great collaboration that already exists in issues such as the fight against terrorism, drugs or human trafficking, although they have referred to the explanations that the Minister of the Interior can transfer tomorrow French to Fernando Grande Marlaska.
On the other hand, government sources have indicated that the summit will also allow Sánchez and Macron to address the big issues currently on the table in the EU. Among them they have cited the reform of the electricity market, for which Spain and France have presented proposals that, according to Moncloa, are quite aligned and the two presidents consider the matter a priority, so it is not ruled out that they could end up going hand.
They have also cited the reform of the economic governance framework, the future migration and asylum pact as well as the measures that the EU could adopt to counteract the effect of the law of subsidies of the United States to green industries (IRA for its acronym in English). , an issue in which Macron has been especially active from the outset.
Sánchez and Macron will be accompanied by a dozen ministers at the Barcelona summit. In the Spanish case, the three vice presidents will attend the meeting as well as the heads of Foreign, Defense, Interior, Transport, Agriculture, Education and Culture.
The event will start at 10:30 am, with the arrival of the French delegation, formal greetings and both hymns. Next, the bilateral meeting between Sánchez and Macron will take place, while the rest of the ministers meet with their counterparts, after which, at noon, there will be a plenary session in which what has been discussed will be shared.
Finally, the Friendship Treaty and other agreements of a different nature will be signed and the joint press conference will close what will be the XXVII bilateral summit, the first of which was held in 1987. The French president later plans a visit to the Picasso Museum as well as a meeting with the French community at the French Lyceum in Barcelona.