Government and ERC close their first meeting without agreement after the crisis over Catalan on Netflix

  • The two parties do agree to continue talking in the coming days and agree that an audiovisual law must be drafted that satisfies both

  • Ministers Bolaños and Montero, plus Lastra and Gómez, for the PSOE, and Rufián, Vilalta and Jové for ERC participate in the telematic meeting

After almost three hours of meeting, the Government and ERC do not put an end to their latest crisis as partners in the legislature. Both parties agreed to continue talking, and agree that they must agree on an audiovisual law in which both parties feel comfortable, but there is still no closed drafting. A formula that makes it possible to oblige all platforms, including foreign ones (such as Netflix, HBO Max or Amazon Prime Video) to include in their catalog 6% of productions in Catalan, Galician or Basque, as the independentists wish, and at the same time stay within the European framework, as the socialists warn.

The Executive and ERC were interested in redirecting their crisis as soon as possible, and they got down to work. They saw each other – telematically – in a meeting by videoconference at the highest level scheduled for 6:00 p.m. but which finally started shortly after, about 30 minutes later. The Socialists were represented by the Ministers of the Presidency and Finance, Félix Bolaños and María Jesús Montero (experts making agreements, on the political and economic side), plus the Deputy Secretary General of the PSOE, Adriana Lastra – who has a good relationship with the Republicans from the start of the legislature – and the parliamentary spokesman, Héctor Gómez. For ERC, its spokespersons sat in Barcelona and Madrid, Marta Vilalta and Gabriel Rufián, plus the president of the group in Parliament and of the party’s national council, Josep Maria Jové (right hand of the leader, Oriol Junqueras), and the secretary of Communication from the Government, Oriol Duran.

“We have agreed to continue talking,” ERC sources briefly pointed out to this newspaper, just at the conclusion of the virtual appointment, after nine o’clock at night. “There is an agreement that a law must be agreed in which we are both comfortable. We have not closed the agreement because we have not gone to the specific article. We will do that these days,” complemented a socialist source. Both partners conspired not to go into details that could ruin the negotiation. But the two feel compelled to close their clash soon: the first material proof that the weapons have been holstered will come on Friday: then, at noon, the deadline for submitting the vetoes to the 2022 Budgets will end. ERC kept that letter in case the fracture was not redirected. Montero, before the telematic meeting, was convinced that “very soon” a “definitive” agreement would be reached on the accounts for next year, although she appealed to “discretion” to be able to dialogue “without any kind of pressure.”

The contacts between the Socialists and Republicans began on Tuesday night, once Rufián raised the alarm signal, warning that not only could the audiovisual law fall, but that the General State Budgets and the legislative agenda of the Executive. The bipartisan needs the 13 votes of ERC to carry out the decrees and reforms that it has in its portfolio, since it no longer has any option to look to the right. The relationship with the Junqueras formation is a capital that cannot be lost.

The Executive was always reluctant to establish quotas in the audiovisual law. He was betting and betting more on incentives, but in the end, to close the deal with ERC, he agreed to integrate in the articles that the platforms offer 6% of their catalog in co-official languages. But it was this Tuesday, after the Council of Ministers, when it confirmed that this obligation could not concern operators not based in Spain, because, according to its reading, the European directive does not allow it.

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Community legislation, which dates from 2018, and which all Member States had to have transposed by September 2020, establishes, in Article 13, that Member States shall ensure that the platforms of streaming subject to its jurisdiction “have a percentage of at least 30% of European works in their catalogs and guarantee the prominence of these works”. ERC, however, interprets that there is legal margin to oblige all on-demand television providers, including those based abroad, to offer a percentage of their catalog in Catalan, Galician or Basque, and they recall that some, such as the American Netflix They are also based in Spain.

The first vice president, Nadia Calviño, responsible for the text, assured this Wednesday that the Government is “very open to negotiation.” But he added the notice: “The entire bill has tremendously complex quotas” and nothing can be introduced that “contradicts the EU directive.”

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