Catalonia’s minister for Digital Policy and Public Administration, Jordi Puigneró, revealed during a radio interview with Catalunya Ràdio [the Catalan public broadcaster] that Spain’s Foreign Minister has vetoed a Catalan government project to deploy a 5G network along the Mediterranean coast jointly devised with the French region of Occitanie. Borrell’s deputy, José María Muriel Palomina, has demanded in writing that the Catalan ministry refers to Spain as “the kingdom of Spain” and to Catalonia as a “region” rather than a “nation”. Furthermore, the Spanish official insists that the Catalan ministry must refer to itself as a “department” and he claims that the Catalan government has no powers to undertake a project such as this.
“It’s the proverbial dog in the manger”, Puigneró complained, and he went on to explain that he and the vice-president of the Occitanie region had already booked their flights to Bucharest where they were supposed to sign on the 8 to 9 million euros worth of European funding earmarked for the project. It was then that Spain’s Foreign Ministry phoned the European Commission in order to thwart the initiative of the Catalan ministry for Digital Policy. “The Spanish government clearly meant to throw a spanner in the works. Spain and progress are polar opposites”, said the Catalan minister.
Nevertheless, Puigneró spoke optimistically about the future of the project and he announced that they are working on a number of ways to bring it to fruition. While he didn’t reveal any details about the alternatives being considered, he stated that Nadia Calviño —Spain’s Minister for Business and the Economy— had no issues with the project and only the Foreign Minister opposed it. “It’s another of Borrell’s obsessions”, Puigneró complained.
The Catalan minister also emphasised the importance of the automotive industry for Catalonia and added that the 5G Mediterranean corridor will allow Catalonia to remain in the lead in this sector, which now “must incorporate the added value provided by new technologies”. He also mentioned that self-driving cars and trucks are currently being tested on the AP-7 motorway between Girona Oest and Girona Sud in connection with this European project launched by Catalonia and Occitanie.