"We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel." Vicente Boluda, president of the Valencian Association of Businessmen, AVE, said this yesterday at the event that brought together more than 1,800 businessmen in Madrid, mainly from Catalonia, Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia, to audit the status of the Mediterranean corridor works called by the platform
This has not been the feeling that employers have had in the other seven editions that have been held annually to test the evolution of a vital infrastructure for the logistics activity of Mediterranean companies, always full of pessimism. “Yes, we are a little more optimistic, because with each passing year you see that things are being done, but there are still things to be resolved,” Boluda added.
The president of AVE, an association of which businessmen such as the president of Mercadona, Juan Roig, are part, was referring to projects pending or in the execution phase such as the double platform between Castellón and Valencia or the through tunnel of the Valencian capital, fundamental for decongest traffic from north to south. “We are satisfied that the Mediterranean corridor is advancing, but not at the speed we would like,” added Boluda, accompanied by business leaders such as Josep Sánchez Llibre, president of Foment del Treball, or Antonio Garamendi, president of the CEOE.
Boluda reported that now the businessmen hope that the date of 2025 or 2026 will be finalized “so that most of the route is finished” (date offered last year by the Government). And he acknowledged that we will have to wait until 2031 or 2032 for the corridor “to go from Almería to the south.” The corridor layout should continue advancing in the future to Algeciras.
The president of AVE did not ignore the criticism of the central government, asking it to "do things more quickly, but we believe that everyone is now aware of the importance of this infrastructure." That was also the message from the majority of businessmen, that the Government “accelerate the pace of execution.” Sánchez Llibre, for example, stressed that "we are risking the competitiveness of companies, the competitiveness of workers and the health of our children and grandchildren."
The president of Foment described it as “very sad” that employers have to demonstrate “due to a lack of management by the administrations” in this objective. He also assured that it is thanks to the pressure of civil society "and these events" that the Government "is beginning to rise to the occasion."
More critical of the evolution of the works were the presidents of the Valencian Community, Carlos Mazón, and his Murcian counterpart, Fernando López Miras. The Valencian rejected “the unjustifiable delay” of the work and stressed that “it is no longer tolerable other than speeding up.” López Miras harshly criticized that "the Mediterranean corridor has made a lot of progress in Catalonia and somewhat in the Valencian Community, but it seems that it has forgotten about Murcia, where it has not yet arrived." No member of the Catalan executive attended the meeting.
The event was held coinciding with the investiture of Pedro Sánchez, so it had a marked political character. Juan Roig criticized the agreements, pointing out that “if what is happening in Spain were happening in Portugal, we would be slowing down investments.” He added that “businessmen now need tranquility and a framework of stability; "We are half achieving a division among the Spaniards."
Vicente Boluda was tougher. In his speech to the businessmen gathered at Ifema, he stated that the pact that has allowed Sánchez's investiture "leads to a destructive drift and division." In this context, he asked that the agreement be “submitted to citizens throughout Spain for consultation; "It would be the most successful practice because this way the Government would know the opinion of the majority of citizens on the commitments that will condition the legislature." His speech was widely applauded.
Moments later, part of the audience booed the Secretary of State for Transport, David Lucas. It happened when the representative of the Government, who came to replace Minister Raquel Sánchez, congratulated himself before the forum on the election of Pedro Sánchez as president. Some businessmen acknowledged to this newspaper their discomfort at that moment. The Government delegate in the Valencian Community, Pilar Bernabé, present in Madrid, criticized Boluda's speech and the attitude of some businessmen