Catalonia open to offer from Madrid

Artur Mas

Catalonia is open to offers from the central government that would allow it to remain in Spain with greater autonomy and control over its taxes, regional finance chief Andreu Mas-Colell said.

Mas-Colell, who describes the struggle for autonomy as a “game of endurance,” said the two main political parties in Madrid will have to come up with an offer that can be put to a vote. Tax powers would be an important element in any deal, and if prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s government thinks no offer would be good enough to convince Catalans to stay, “they are wrong,” he said.

“The more attractive is the offer on the table the more likely that the vote will end up developing as in Britain,” the 70-year-old former Harvard University economics professor said in an interview in London yesterday.

Voters in Scotland opted against independence last month after the three main UK parties made a joint pledge days before the referendum to hand over more policy-making powers to the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Debate is ongoing at Westminster on extending those powers.

Catalan president Artur Mas has called off a non-binding vote on independence scheduled for November 9 after the Constitutional Court blocked it, and organised an informal consultation for the same day instead.

Abiding by rulings from Madrid has put him under pressure from Esquerra Republicana, his strongest ally, and from protesters who are calling for early elections as a de facto independence referendum.

“It is to our advantage to remain in a legal framework,” said Mas-Colell, a member of Mas’s party.

- (Bloomberg)


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