The reform of the Penal Code will be the obstacle to overcome in the next phase of the dialogue table in Catalonia

The dialogue and negotiation table between the Spanish Government and the Government of the Generalitat has restarted after 10 months of paralysis. But he did it slowly. The meeting between the Catalan delegation of the Government and the members of the Spanish Executive held this Wednesday in Madrid has not left any major agreements. This is recognized by the Executive chaired by Pere Aragones. But “things are happening” say sources from the presidency of the Generalitat consulted by Public. And while it is true that this month of July has been frenetic in the reactivation of relations between the Palau de la Generalitat and Moncloa, it is also true that the concretions are reluctant to arrive.

The Penal Code, next objective

The question is: Where is the dialogue table going now that it has been reactivated, even if it is slowly? The official version speaks of “overcoming the judicialization and the resolution of the political conflict,” according to the agreement established this Wednesday. Although it does not specify anything else. But, according to sources familiar with the negotiation, the roadmap for dejudialization of Catalan politics places the reform of the Penal Code as the obstacle to overcome in the next negotiating phase of the dialogue table between governments that is now opening, after the meeting on Wednesday.

From the Government they continue to defend amnesty as the preferred formula to eliminate the impact of judicialization on Catalan politics in the last five years since the 1-O referendum. But they recognize that the PSOE does not even want to hear about it. Apart from the repercussions and historical connotations, this is one of the reasons why the Spanish Government has not wanted to enter into the amnesty law of 1978 that could allow prosecuting Franco’s repression, assure sources from the Esquerra leadership. But sources from the Government indicate that “a lot of legislative work can be done in various areas that produces the same or similar effects as the amnesty.” They point to the reform of the gag law, the Court of Auditors and many other regulations that will be explored. “But Penal Code It is a key point with a lot of room for manoeuvre”, assure these same sources.

From the Govern they value that “for the first time, the Spanish Government has committed itself publicly and in writing to carry out legislative reformsregulations, regulations or of any other nature to overcome judicialization and its effects, also taking, as a reference, the best European and international standards and recommendations”, according to the agreement established between the two delegations.

For the sources of the presidency of the Generalitat consulted, this wording “opens the door to reform the Penal Code”. A consideration that from the Government is reinforced by the recognition of the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, of the need to harmonize Spanish laws with those in force in the countries of the European environment. Although without referring to it, Bolanos pointed to the poor fit of the current crime of sedition of the Spanish Penal Code in the judicial proceedings instituted in various European countries for the extradition of independence leaders.

Activate the reform between October and November

Regarding the reticence of the PSOE, also expressed by Bolaños regarding the lack of parliamentary support, from the Government they admit the “existing difficulties”. But they assure that “the reform is possible and if we reach an agreement at the dialogue table, the majority of the investiture is enough. In fact, the reform of the Penal Code has the support of part of the Spanish Government, that of United We Can, since it was this formation that initially launched the proposal. Not so the Socialists, who express their doubts about making these changes without a large majority that includes the PP as the main opposition party.

Those same sources dare to put a date on the calendar despite the fact that they admit that right now the positions are very far apart: “In October or November the parliamentary groups could be entering Congress the bills for the reform of the Penal Code to transfer the political agreements of the negotiation table to the legal field”. This is also stated in the signed agreement: “The reference parliamentary groups in the Cortes Generales of the delegations of the Dialogue Table They will be in charge of promoting it in parliament”.

Sources from the presidency of the Generalitat assure that the reform of the Criminal Code goes far beyond the crime of sedition, in which the issue has been publicly focused. “There is sedition, but there is also rebellion, certain disobedience and many other things that must be reformed and that can serve for the dejudicialization that we are pursuing.”

Regarding the calendar, the basic document that comes out of the table this Wednesday also makes it clear that “both parties express the will that these legislative modifications be approved, if appropriate, before end next session“. Which fits with the deadlines with which the Government works. The “if appropriate” will be the key, since, for there to be processing, there must be an agreement. And this is very far from taking place.

Pressure with general budgets, parallel negotiation

But in case it serves as an incentive, sources from the Esquerra leadership remind Público that from now on, the negotiation of the dialogue table will run parallel to the one that the Republicans will establish with the Government of Pedro Sánchez for the approval of the budgets generals. And those same sources assure that the advances in one and another negotiation “must advance in a harmonious way” if the Spanish Government wants the votes of Esquerra to the state accounts, maintain the Republicans. “ERC no longer trusts”they assure.

On the other hand, the dialogue and negotiation table between the two governments was created to reach an agreed solution on the political conflict in relation to the demand for self-determination of a substantial part of Catalan society and that the State does not recognize. This is an objective recognized in the agreement: “The will to advance in this area through the drive and political commitment of both parties that reinforce the commitment to dialogue and negotiation as a means of resolving the political conflict and deepening democracy”. An objective, that right now, the parties recognize that it is parked to focus on the judicial issue.

“We do not give up self-determination, far from it”, they assure from the direction of Esquerra. But they also add that “It is not possible to negotiate the substance of the issue without balancing forces, we must be in the same conditions. If we independentistas are persecuted and judicially repressed, it is impossible to move forward. The definitive negotiation will only begin when that judicial pressure is annulled or greatly diminished. And make no mistake, the conflict will not be resolved without the Catalan men and women being able to decide the political future and status of Catalonia”. “But we must also be very aware that it is not an easy process and that it will require a lot of sacrifices, efforts, determination and time,” they emphasize in Esquerra. “This will be long”they warn.

Catalan, first agreement

The impulse and shielding of the Catalan has been the first agreement of the dialogue table as already advanced exclusively Public. Although it is an agreement that is considered to be on the margins of the underlying objective of the dialogue table. A consideration that frustrated a meeting of the dialogue table as Public explained in that information for considering the insufficient agreement for it. However, from the Government they defend its inclusion for two reasons: “It is part of the dejudialization after the judicial offensive against linguistic immersion in Catalan schools, and language is a core issue of the country that cannot be considered a sectoral issue plus”.

In this sense, it has been agreed “contribute to the strengthening and improvement of the educational model of Catalonia”, always in accordance with the laws approved by the Parliament and the current linguistic model in Catalan classrooms. “Both governments share that Catalan must continue to be the language normally used as a vehicular and learning language in the educational system of Catalonia, and Aranese in the Vall d’Aran, that the teaching and curricular and educational use of Spanish must also be guaranteed and must have an adequate presence in language curricula and projects, and that the autonomy and capacity of schools to develop educational projects adapted to social reality and linguistics of their environment and in accordance with the evaluation of linguistic competences”, is detailed in the agreement signed this Wednesday, which emphasizes that “the presence of official languages ​​in non-university education must be based exclusively on pedagogical criteria uniquely for each center”.

Consequently, says the document, “support is given to the development of the recent regulatory framework, established by the Parliament of Catalonia“and that in practice eliminates the judicial ruling that imposed 25% of Spanish in Catalan schools. Legislation that will most likely have to be reviewed by the Constitutional Court after various announced appeals. But for the moment in the established agreement, the Spanish Government admits that “the provisions of this Law are adapted to the constitutional and statutory frameworks.”

The same agreement speaks of “promoting linguistic plurality in the institutions and the right of citizens to be served in the official language they choose”, and specifies that “regulatory reforms in the General cuts to extend the right of the representatives of the Spaniards to carry out their work in all the languages ​​of the State”. In this sense, at the moment the presence of Catalan in the General Courts is limited to the Senate only, given that the agreement says that “It will begin by promoting the revision of the regulation” of the upper house “to expand this right”. Likewise, they have committed to the State promoting “the regulatory reforms necessary to guarantee full linguistic availability and the right to be reciprocated orally and in writing in Catalan in the peripheral administration of the State”, which would allow a certain use of Catalan in the European Parliament.

With this Catalan agreement and the negotiation process underway, it can be considered relationships reactivated between the two governments that were frozen due to the scandal of political espionage against numerous pro-independence leaders with the Pegasus system. Or at least the relations on the part of the Government, that of Esquerra, since Junts continues to refuse to participate.

Although the assistance of the Minister of Economy, James Giro, to the meeting of the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council held in Madrid, coincidentally parallel to the dialogue table, indicates that not everyone from Junts is in favor of freezing relations. The trip has its importance, since it is necessary to remember that This is the first time since 2017 that a Minister attends this meeting in person. Not in vain, Giró has been able to attribute the negotiating merit to Catalonia being able to spend an additional 3,100 million euros in the 2023 budget, which will be used to combat inflation, the “great economic problem” facing the country and the European continent , according to the minister. Although in the negotiation he had the president of the Generalitat as a battering ram, Pere Aragonesmuch more than their colleagues in political education.


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