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Catalan Council for Constitutional Guarantees criticises state structures included in 2015 budget

The Catalan Government’s Budget for 2015 includes some “unconstitutional” measures, according to the Council for Constitutional Guarantees (CGE), which is an advisory body issuing non-binding reports. The CGE has criticised a number of bill amendments developing some state structures, but not all of them. The body has highlighted the way the budget bill is to develop Catalonia’s own tax administration and its own competition authority, finding it to be at odds with the Spanish Constitution. However, the CGE does consider the way in which Catalonia’s own Social Security system would be developed (by launching the Agency of Social Protection) to respect the Constitution. The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing Catalan independence party ERC have said they will modify the measures criticised and will develop the affected state structures in a similar way to the Social Security system.

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26 February 2015 11:07 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Government’s Budget for 2015 includes some “unconstitutional” measures, according to the Council for Constitutional Guarantees (CGE), which is an advisory body issuing non-binding reports. The CGE has criticised a number of bill amendments developing some state structures, but not all of them. The governing centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU and the opposition left-wing Catalan independence party ERC had previously reached an agreement to pass the budget and to call early elections in September, to be transformed into a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence. The agreement included the creation of the so-called state structures, such as Catalonia’s own tax administration and Social Security system, which would have their embryonic structure created before the elections and, if a majority of Catalans were to vote for pro-independence parties, they would gradually be developed. The CGE considers the way the budget bill would develop Catalonia’s own tax administration, its own competition authority, its own nuclear security agency and a list of public assets and liabilities, including strategic infrastructure, to be at odds with the Spanish Constitution. However, at the same time, the advisory body does consider the way in which Catalonia’s own Social Security system would be developed – by launching the Agency of Social Protection – to respect the Constitution. In light of the CGE’s report, the CiU and ERC have said they will amend the measures criticised and will develop the affected state structures in a similar way to the Social Security system.


On Thursday, the CGE issued its non-binding report about the Catalan Government’s budget bill for 2015 and the complementary law on fiscal measures, as well as its associated amendments. The bills were supposed to be approved in early February in the Catalan Parliament. However, the People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, took the bills and the planned amendments to the CGE because it thought they included unconstitutional measures. By doing this, the PP delayed the budget’s approval by a few weeks.

Foreseeing the PP’s reaction, the CiU and ERC removed the controversial amendments from the bill, in order to include them at a later stage, after the CGE’s report. Now, the Council for Constitutional Guarantees has said that some amendments are constitutional but others are not, at least in the way they develop the state structures. The CGE reports are not binding, but most of the parliamentary groups and the Catalan Government tend to always follow its advice.

The CGE considers the way Catalonia’s own tax administration is being developed to be at odds with Spain’s Constitution. The Catalan Agency for Nuclear Security is also unconstitutional, as is the Competition Authority and a list identifying critical infrastructures that have to be protected in case of independence, stated the CGE. However, the creation of an agency to develop Catalonia’s own Social Security system would be in line with the Constitution, if it does not go beyond the Catalan Government’s powers.

The CiU and ERC will now review the amendments and introduce the modified versions to the bill, making sure to respect the CGE’s report, they said. They have until next Tuesday to do so and the definitivebudget should be approved next week. The CiU and ERC said they will take the Agency for Social Protection, which will develop Catalonia’s own Social Security system, as a model for modifying the measures criticised, since the CGE has declared such an agency to be constitutional. Furthermore, they will make sure that the new state structures do not initially take exclusive powers from the Spanish Government.

The CGE has unanimously rejected the creation of Catalonia’s own tax administration. The amendment was planned so that the Catalan Government would in 3 months’ time draft a bill that would rule on the management, liquidation, inspection and tax collection of the newly-created administration. The new body would collect all the taxes in Catalonia: the Catalan Government’s taxes and also those created by the Spanish Executive. This would go against the Constitution, which gives the Spanish Government the exclusive powers to set its own taxes and to collect them.

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  • The Catalan President and CiU leader, Artur Mas (left), and the ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras (right), when they announced the agreement to call early elections and to develop state structures (by ACN)

  • The Catalan President and CiU leader, Artur Mas (left), and the ERC leader, Oriol Junqueras (right), when they announced the agreement to call early elections and to develop state structures (by ACN)