Spain’s Main Business Group Slams Premier Sanchez’s Catalan Amnesty Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Spain’s main business industry group, representing most of the country’s largest firms, lambasted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s plan to grant amnesty to hundreds of Catalan separatists.

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The board of the CEOE confederation warned that the amnesty plan undermines separation of powers and legal security, the group said in a statement released jointly Monday with three other business groups. The statement also urged that the principles of equality and social cohesion be made the priority “above all other political or economic interests.”

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in central Madrid Sunday as part of nationwide demonstrations organized by the conservative People’s Party, Spain’s largest political party, to fight the amnesty. Although the protest was peaceful, smaller demonstrations outside the headquarters of Sanchez’s Socialist party over the last week have regularly ended in violent clashes between far-right activists and the police.

Sanchez is set to win a new term in a confidence vote Thursday after a separatist party pledged the support of its seven lawmakers in exchange for the amnesty. The deal was unveiled last week, while the bill was filed Monday, following months of negotiations as Sanchez struggled to gather the necessary majority for the parliamentary vote following an inconclusive national vote in July.

Police unions, judges, leading law firms, civil servants and prosecutors have all issued statements criticizing the amnesty, which will benefit about 400 people. While most of the statements were issued before the bill was filed, the CEOE is the first major group to publish one since the draft was made public earlier Monday.

The CEOE’s members include several smaller and regional businesses associations as well as some of the largest firms in Spain’s Ibex-35 index, such as Repsol SA, Iberdrola SA, Telefonica SA, Inditex SA and state-controlled airport operator Aena SA.

The deal, which also includes references to certain fiscal policies that could be handed over to regional governments, is “creating an increasingly complicated business environment, in which it will be harder to have economic growth and to create jobs,” the CEOE statement said.

(Adds statement on business environment in last paragraph)

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