It is money, symbols and identity. The audiovisual law, and the shielding that is introduced in it to the production in Catalan, keep the negotiation between the Government and ERC trapped, and with this disagreement it begins this week, eight days before the final vote of the Budgets for next year . There is not the slightest fear that the State accounts will not be sealed to be applied since January; nor that, in the end, the audiovisual law is not finished off. The political interlocutors consulted emphasize that, in reality, neither side can afford to break. The protagonists, however – the government and ERC negotiators – assure that the discussion is very real. “There is a real desire to agree, as many as there are real difficulties to agree,” say Republican sources.
From ERC they criticize that the Socialists have now realized that there is a European directive that makes it difficult to apply the 6% production quota in Catalan on platforms such as Netflix, which the Government agreed to introduce into the law. It is not the first, nor the second nor the third time that there have been rectifications regarding the apparently reached agreements. The republicans, closely watched in Catalonia by their government partners, Junts per Catalunya, as well as by the CUP, a good part of the Catalan audiovisual sector, plus associations and groups for the defense of the co-official language, prepared to reproach them for their alleged condescension with the Government Pedro Sánchez, are willing to reformulate the negotiation, but not to renounce their general objective.
The pressure is now focused on getting “the State to become economically involved for the first time in the diffusion of films in Catalan, Galician and Basque.” The government already has this proposal on the table. It would be about creating a fund, from the General State Budget, to dub in the co-official languages in audiovisual productions. Along with the demand for these state resources, the Republicans press the Government to “force” foreign platforms to add films that are already subtitled in the co-official languages or even dubbed in their catalogs.
Force multinationals? It is not so easy, as they respond, at the moment, in the Government. In principle, it is not possible with those platforms that are not established in Spain, according to European directives. If these platforms see business and believe that these films will be well received, there will be no problem, it is the answer that the socialist interlocutors are limited to giving. On the ERC side, it is difficult to accept that the Government cannot do anything to negotiate with these platforms. The negotiation continues with new contributions.
The discussion began with the Socialists’ proposal that the platforms dedicate 5% of their profits in Spain to film production in the European Union and, of that quota, 70% to the co-official languages. The step now taken is to dedicate 10% to the three co-official languages. That is little, has responded, for now, ERC.
Perceptions of what is happening in the Generalitat and in the central government differ significantly. The independentist republicans of ERC govern in Catalonia in coalition with Junts, although the winner of the elections was Salvador Illa’s PSC. No pacts can be found, with some exceptions, between the Socialists and ERC in Catalonia because their leader, Oriol Junqueras, is not in agreement with whom he considers to be one of the main electoral adversaries, if not the greatest. Illa’s obvious interest in agreeing on the Autonomous Budgets with the Government of Pere Aragonès fell on deaf ears. The PSC is an opponent of the republicans in Catalonia, but they are allies in the Cortes Generales, despite the drama of the relationship.
What affects the most is what happens closer. To not miss anything, subscribe.
In the midst of a fuss with the audiovisual law, the ruling of the High Court of Catalonia – ratified by the Supreme Court – on the obligation of Catalan schools to teach 25% of classes in Spanish adds passion to the linguistic issue. The harassment of a family from Canet de Mar, near Barcelona, for demanding that the law be complied with with their five-year-old daughter has disrupted the agreement. The Sánchez government maintains that it defends compliance with the law and sentences, but its premise is that in Catalonia there is no problem with the language. This is the consideration cemented for decades by pro-independence and socialists in Catalonia and the rest of Spain. Not all the Catalan PP, now and before, is quick to proclaim that the problem exists. Languages are not a comfortable subject for politicians in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia, with the exceptions of Vox and Ciudadanos, although with more than nuances between them.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.