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Spanish Constitutional Court partly lifts suspension on Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The magistrates at the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) lifted the cautionary suspension against the functions and structure of the Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which they dictated five months ago. However, they have kept the suspension on the Ministry’s name. While they considered that the functions and structure of the department match the Catalan Government’s competences, as far as they are limited to “foreign projection” they still believe that the denomination of the ‘Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ could represent an invasion of the Spanish State’s competences on this matter. 

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29 June 2016 07:05 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- The functions and structure of the Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs are no longer suspended. The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) lifted this Wednesday the cautionary suspension on these points but has kept that referring to the department’s name. The magistrates at the TC continue to believe that the denomination of the ‘Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ could represent an invasion of the Spanish State’s competences on this matter. However, they considered that the functions and structure of the department match the Catalan Government’s competences, as far as they are limited to “foreign projection”. The Catalan Ministry, led by former MEP Raül Romeva, was taken before the court after the TC accepted an appeal presented by the Spanish executive, which considered the Catalan government to have exceeded the competences in matters of foreign action specified in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy.


Thus, according to the TC, the Catalan Government is free to act in foreign projection, as is specified in the Catalan Statue of Autonomy, but such activity can’t under any circumstances represent the attribution of competences which are of international subject, which means that Catalonia can’t undertake international diplomacy nor sign treaties which may affect the competences of the Spanish Government.

In particular, regarding the functions of the Catalan Ministry, the magistrates have lifted the suspension on article 3.31 of the 2/2016 decree, which attributes to the Catalan Ministry the competence of “coordinating foreign action” and article 3.3.2 of the same decree, which attributed to the Catalan Government the legal authority to coordinate “foreign relationships and the role of the Generalitat before the EU institutions”.

In relation to the structure, the magistrates leave without effect the suspension which affected section 1.1 b) of decree 45/2016, which established the creation of a Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the European Union within the Department of Foreign Affairs, International Relations and Transparency and section 20 of the same decree, which foresaw the functions of the Secretary.

Name of institution still suspended

On the other hand, the magistrates considered that the Catalan executive cannot use the name ‘Foreign Affairs’ for the Catalan Ministry since it can be confused with the title used by the Spanish Ministry. This would give the Catalan department an international and official dimension which could be understood as going beyond the competences of Autonomous Communities such as Catalonia.

A 5 month-long cautionary suspension

The Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs, headed by pro-independence cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’s top member, former MEP Raül Romeva, was suspended in February, after the TC accepted the appeal presented by the Spanish executive. The appeal considered the Catalan government to have exceeded the competences in matters of foreign action specified in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy. Thus, the new Ministry and its competences were due to be suspended at first for five months, which is the period that the TC had to study whether the new Ministry was in line with the Spanish Constitution.

This Wednesday, the TC considered that only part of the suspension could be lift.

 

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  • Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva (by ACN)

  • Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva (by ACN)