Solidarity has been replaced by unfairness
Source: Catalans UK
Nobody in Catalonia questions the need for solidarity within Spain and within Europe. The problem is that Catalonia pays so much to the poorer regions in Spain that its own education and welfare systems, as well as roads and railways are significantly worse than those in the regions it is helping.
The failure of the State to invest in key infrastructure has weakened the Catalan economy. Spanish infrastructure policy has been dictated by political interests rather than economic priorities. For example, Spain has built the largest network of high speed railways in Europe, and is still building new lines even though some have already had to close due to lack of passengers. Huge regional airports have been built which no airline wants to use. And, at the same time, there has been totally inadequate investment in the strategic transport corridor which passes through Catalonia.
This corridor is the main freight and passenger connection between Spain and the rest of Europe: it is vital for the Spanish and Catalan economies and has been made a priority by the European Union. Nevertheless, the Spanish Government still wants to construct a new line through the mountains in order to avoid Catalonia, a project which the EU has already rejected as impractical.
Reforms in 2006 led to a Spanish law which guarantees a minimum level of state investment in Catalonia, but this has been ignored by successive Spanish governments.
The Spanish Government also agreed to publish official figures on fiscal balances (the difference between what regions pay in tax and what they receive in public services and investments).Â When it it did so, the figures confirmed that Catalonia pays much more than its fair share.Â Every year, Catalonia’s fiscal deficit is equivalent to 8.7% of its GDP.
Rather than address the problem, the Spanish authorities simply decided not to publish any more figures.Â So Catalonia, one of the economic motors of Europe, is heavily endebted and struggling to pay for basic public services.