Josep Bou, who detailed how business is suffering in Catalonia. | Joan Torres

Josep Bou, president of Empresaris de Catalunya, said in Palma on Friday that the Catalan sovereignty movement has been exported to the Balearics and Valencia. Arguments have to be rebutted in the Balearics, he insisted, "otherwise sovereignty will grow in the Balearics, and that would be in no one's interest". The security of the economy, he added, was "vital".

Bou considered the economic damage of the "process" in Catalonia. There has already been a 0.3% drop in the GDP forecast, but this could accelerate to 2.5%, equivalent to 30,000 million euros, over the next two years. In his view, the application of Article 155 will end the notion of nationalist "hegemony" and initiate a recovery in economic confidence. "Nevertheless, some damage has been done because of the flight of almost 2,000 companies. It is a terrible bleeding for the economy."

His association estimates that there has been a 30% drop in bar/restaurant business, a 25% decline in hotel business, a 50% reduction in property sales, and between eleven and twenty per cent decreases in retail sales, depending on the size of stores.

Asked about the election on 21 December, Bou observed that Catalans "are not fools" even if some of them fantasise. If another separatist government is elected, it will know what happens if the law is not obeyed. The Spanish government, he believed, "has done what was needed to be done in defending the interests of the Catalans". The rule of law, he continued, must continue to be applied, and the state "should not negotiate a referendum for self-determination".

As for the boycotting of Catalan products, he observed that it is small-minded to do this, as behind the names of the companies there are workers and their families. "I ask for there to be no kind of boycott."