Esquerra Republicana seals an agreement for an Amnesty bill, opening the phase for resolution of the political conflict and for economic and social progress

Esquerra Republicana leader Oriol Junqueras and Spanish Socialist party federal executive and negotiations committee member Félix Bolaños sealed the agreement in Barcelona on Thursday. This includes several measures to unblock the investiture of Pedro Sánchez as Spanish Premier.

Esquerra has wrought progress in the negotiations on several key points: an amnesty bill covering all victims of political reprisals, the opening of a second phase of negotiations for the resolution of the political conflict, the comprehensive transfer of the Rodalies suburban commuter railways, and concretion on greater economic resources, working towards specific funding for Catalonia.

Amnesty Bill

As was released on Tuesday, one of the first points of the agreement is the amnesty bill: Esquerra Republicana has wrested amnesty for all victims of political reprisals, including criminal, civil, accounting and administrative prosecutions concerning the national emancipation process as of January 2013. Indeed, the document signed this yesterday by Esquerra Republicana leader Oriol Junqueras and Spanish minister Félix Bolaños specifies that this bill is to “culminate dejudicialization.”

Resolution of the political conflict

The amnesty bill—as the concord document makes clear—is also the first step towards resolving the conflict in optimal, balanced conditions. Esquerra has thus managed to set a second phase of the negotiations in motion, which should give continuity to the strategy initiated by Esquerra in recent years and which must address all the political propositions at a regular tempo and which will satisfy all parties.

The agreement thus envisages that the delegations at the negotiating table may be made up of members of their respective governments. Besides opening this second phase between the parties, the draft provides for the creation of a committee formed by the parties to oversee the negotiations in a parallel and complementary manner, under the surveillance of an external figure. In addition, the draft acknowledges the clash of legitimacies that is at the foundation of the historical political conflict and establishes that the agreements on the political framework for Catalonia be endorsed by the citizens of Catalonia.

The agreement specifically sets out the elements characterizing the political conflict:

- The debate on the national recognition of Catalonia and the manner in which it is conveyed in politics, the legal system and institutions, respecting both legal and democratic principles.
- The need for those agreements reached as a political outcome of the dialogue are to be endorsed by the people, which will allow closure of issue pending, and contribute to fulfilling a broad, solid and cross-sectional demand maintained over time, fostering consensus on the future of Catalonia.
- The resources that Catalonia must have to ensure the rights, social cohesion and prosperity of all its inhabitants.

Comprehensive transfer of Rodalies, debt write-off, and investments

In accordance with the last point above, the agreement also means to respond to a historical demand by Catalonia: the comprehensive transfer of the Rodalies suburban commuter railway service. This involves the necessary financial resources, investments, rolling stock and railway infrastructure. To manage the service, a public company is to be established with a majority holding and presidency by the Catalan Generalitat government.

Besides the comprehensive transfer of Rodalies, the agreement also includes the writing off of the Generalitat’s €15 billion debt with the Spanish government’s Regional Liquidity Fund (FLA) which represents a saving of around €1.3 billion euros in interest payments, which in turn will impact on the correction of the chronic fiscal deficit.

Direct resources will also be added to all this. Thus, a permanent fund of €150 million per annum is to be dedicated to scientific and technical research projects in Catalonia. And €2 million is also to be added to increase funding for study grants and scholarships. In the field of security, an allocation of €1,654 million euros per annum through to 2030 has been agreed on to increment the Catalan Mossos d'Esquadra police personnel and to contribute to funding the force’s expenditures.

After being frozen for years, the negotiations for funds for the transfer and creation of new judicial bodies in Catalonia are to be reopened, with transfers increasing by 27% against the previous allocation.

All of this corresponds directly to the areas managed exclusively by the Generalitat. In this regard, the agreed draft also deals with opening a working space between the two governments to singularly establish “how to find adequate funding to ensure financial sufficiency for public services in Catalonia.”

Finally, and to correct the historical grievance regarding the Spanish State’s investments in Catalonia, a system of economic management is to be established such that it will be the Generalitat that will directly execute much of the public works.

The agreement is to be submitted to Esquerra’s membership vote on today.