The Barcelona City Council has issued a statement denouncing a Madrid-led attack on the Catalan economy following the 1 October referendum and the Catalan Parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence (UDI).
The statement, which reveals attempts by the Spanish government to apply pressure on Catalan companies to relocate their headquarters and to withdraw funds from the Catalan banks and state-owned enterprises, was backed by votes from PDECat, ERC and the CUP, in addition to the independent councillors Gerard Ardanuy and Juanjo Puigcorbé. The PSC, Ciudadanos and the PP opposed the motion, while BComú’s councillors abstained.
The statement, voted on by the Presidency Committee, Citizens’ Rights, Participation, Security and Prevention, denounced what it called an “operation led by the Spanish government in which Catalan and multinational corporations and banks, most of them based in Barcelona city, were pressured into relocating their headquarters and offices outside of Catalonia".
The statement goes on to say that, "the pressure involved the withdrawal of Spanish government funds from Catalan financial institutions, while urging Catalan and Spanish companies to do the same by leaving Catalonia".
The declaration includes the opinion expressed before the commission by the PDECat Councillor Jaume Ciurana, that the King and the Spanish government were behind the whole operation. In its statement Barcelona council criticised, "the contempt with which the government of Spain, the King and the political parties which support them have shown the people of Catalonia, in spearheading a government-led operation aimed at creating financial collapse, while putting at risk the savings of millions of Catalans".
The declaration did not receive the support of the governing BComú group. The First Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, reproached the pro-independence groups for failing to accept their share of the responsibility for what happened. According to Pisarello, "The Spanish government is partly to blame, but no one else has admitted they’re responsible", while stressing the fact that the priority now is to approve a budget which is suited to the current situation.
Speaking in defence of the statement, PDECat councillor Jaume Ciurana criticised the powers of the state for treating the Catalan economy with "disdain" and "putting the savings of thousands of Catalan families at risk, whether they were unionists or pro-independence". Councillor Gerard Ardanuy declared that Spain wished to "punish the Catalan people by stripping the country of capital".
Meanwhile, ERC councillor Jordi Coronas emphasized that the initial withdrawals of funds were from state-owned companies such as Renfe, Adif and RTVE, which, in his opinion, "proves it was a government-led operation". According to Maria Rovira, of the CUP, "Spain’s tentacles also extend to the economic control of Catalonia".
Ciudadanos councillor Marilén Barceló, on the other hand, attributed the exodus of businesses to "the legal uncertainty that was created owing to the UDI", while for Montserrat Ballarín, of the PSC, the relocation of company headquarters, "was due to the unilateral nature of the independence process, which almost led to economic ruin". For Alberto Fernández Díaz, of the PP, "the only pressure the companies received was applied by those who favour independence".