Will Winter Olympics and El Prat expansion bring Catalonia and Madrid together?

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Over the past decade, there has been conflict between the separatists in Catalonia and the central government of Spain. However, major projects including the Winter Olympics may bring the regions closer together in the near future. 

Independence parties ERC and Junts of the Catalan Generalitat have for the first time shown their willingness to get involved with the national government and the Catalan Social Democratic PSC. Therefore, a lot is at stake for the northern Spanish region, which usually likes to stay aloof from Madrid´s politics. However, the parties make an exception for the application for the Winter Olympics in 2030 and the expansion of El Prat airport. Both are important for the region. 

However, until recently, such collaboration was unthinkable. In 2020, then-President Quim Torra dissolved the Catalan parliament over escalating conflicts between Junts and the ERC. Later, Torra himself was removed from office. He refused to remove a pamphlet from the facade of the government building. The leaflet read that Spain is a country with political prisoners living in exile. Then, a year ago Spain’s highest court ordered years in prison against the nine main separatist leaders. 

Discord in Catalonia 

Tensions rose in Catalonia in February this year when PSC leader Salvador Illa announced in the regional elections that the struggle for independence had disrupted Catalan society.  And therefore he did not want to co-govern with the ERC and Junts. The Catalan nationalists, in turn, made it clear the socialists were not allowed to enter the government under any circumstances. The separatists would eventually manage to keep their majority together at the expense of the PSC. 

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First rapprochement of ERC 

The first rapprochement between Catalonia and the central government came from the ERC. They supported Prime Minister Sanchez in important bills for the PSOE-Podemos coalition. This included the state budget and the new education law. However, Junts leaders, on the other hand, made repeated efforts to undermine confidence in the negotiations that started in September between the central and Catalan governments. As Sánchez and Catalan Prime Minister Aragonès moved closer, Junts leader Carles Puigdemont continued to proclaim last July that the negotiating table is nothing more than an attempt to suppress the will of the people. 

El Prat Airport Expansion and Winter Olympics 

The extreme noise from Junts has now been overshadowed by a more positive approach from Catalan Vice President Jordi Puigneró (Junts). Recently, he announced the agreement for the extension of Barcelona’s El Prat airport. And also for a high-speed train connection between El Prat and Girona airports. and Giant. 

In addition, the Bilateral Commission has nominated Catalonia for the Winter Olympics in 2030. This is the government body by which the various regions are represented. Furthermore, Catalonia has accepted the condition the games will take place not only in its own region but also in Aragon. According to Catalan Foreign Minister Victòria Alsina, the Winter Games are “the most important international event that will put Catalonia on the world map in the next ten years”. 

For the organisation of the Winter Games, Spain has to compete with Salt Lake City (US) and Saporro (Japan). However, it is not yet known when the host country will be announced. Likewise, the Winter Olympics, and the expansion of El Prat will take place from 2030. 

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