Spain and France will sign the Barcelona treaty on January 19, a friendship agreement of the highest rank between the two states. The message is intended to be urbi et orbi, to the city and the world: “Catalonia is calmer”.
The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne and at least a dozen French ministers will travel to the Catalan capital to hold a high-level meeting with the Spanish Government, during which the first agreement will be signed. Treaty of Friendship and Enhanced Cooperation between the two countries, an agreement that will place Spain's relations with the neighboring country at the same level as France's relations with Germany and Italy.
Barcelona, the scene of a top-level agreement between the Spanish and French states five years after the events of October 2017 that culminated in a fictitious declaration of independence of Catalonia and the dissolution of the Government of the Generalitat in application of article 155 of the Spanish constitution. Five years that seem like an eternity. Five years in which some things have changed in Spain.
Meeting in Barcelona by express decision of President Pedro Sánchez, who was responsible for choosing the location, since the last bilateral summit was held in French territory, specifically in the town of Montauban, on March 15, 2021. In that city, capital Manuel Azaña, president of the Second Republic, symbol of Spanish exile after the Civil War, is buried in the department of Tarn-et-Garonne, in southwestern France.
With the Barcelona summit, the Spanish government intends to transmit two signals: a symbolic signature of the recent agreement between Spain, France and Portugal for the construction of a hydrogen corridor between the ports of Barcelona and Marseille, and a message of institutional normality in Catalonia. That is the signal code, Moncloa sources consulted by La Vanguardia admit.
On December 9, Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sánchez and the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa closed the agreement in Alicante to request financing from the European Union for the construction of an underwater pipeline between the ports of Barcelona and Marseille for the transport of decarbonised hydrogen from the Iberian Peninsula to the center of Europe on the horizon of the year 2030. Still in the technical definition phase, the H2Med project is initially valued at around 2,500 million euros, half of which could come from European funds.
The Alicante agreement put an end to the dispute between Spain –with the active support of Portugal– and France regarding the continuation of the interrupted Midcat gas pipeline for the transport of gas to central Europe through French territory, with the aim of contributing, in the medium term , to lessen Germany's dependence on Russian gas. Macron opposed the development of a new gas infrastructure in France, despite German support for the idea, and accepted as an alternative a connection for the transport of green hydrogen, currently considered one of the ecological fuels of the future.
Sánchez informed Macron of his desire to sign the friendship treaty in Barcelona during the meeting they held in Alicante. The Spanish Government thus intends to emphasize the value it attaches to the H2Med pact and the objective importance of the port of Barcelona at the current time of energy crisis in Europe: Barcelona is currently the largest regasification plant in the Mediterranean. For the purposes of future European energy security, the port of Barcelona becomes a key location if the H2Med project materializes. Said in geopolitical terms: Barcelona, an important port for NATO.
Three years ago the friendship treaty would surely not have been signed in Barcelona. In January 2020, the tension was still very high in Catalonia after the protests that took place after learning of the prison sentences imposed by the Supreme Court on the main leaders of the process, with the exception of Carles Puigdemont and the former councilors who accompanied him. to Brussels. During the years of the procés hardly any foreign president visited Barcelona.
In June 2021, the coalition government of the Spanish left pardoned the Catalan politicians who were in prison, and in December 2022 it abolished the crime of sedition -replaced by a new criminal offense of aggravated public disorder-, partially modifying the crime of embezzlement. With the signing of the Barcelona treaty, Sánchez intends to demonstrate that his policy has allowed Catalonia to reduce inflammation. "The process has ended," the Spanish president said recently.
It is studying where in Barcelona the summit will take place. The Palau Nacional de Montjuïc or a more modern facility.