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Spanish Government appeals against Catalonia's External Action Law because it "is not a state"

The Spanish Government approved on Friday to take to the Constitutional Court Catalonia's Law of External Action and Relations with the EU and the opening of delegations in Vienna and Rome. The Spanish Executive will appeal against the law despite it being foreseen by the Catalan Statute of Autonomy – approved by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people through a binding referendum in 2006. This is Catalonia's main law after the Spanish Constitution and recognises the Catalan Government's right to carry out its own external action abroad. However, in the current debate about Catalonia's independence, the Spanish Government is reiterating its 'no-to-everything' attitude and recentralisation strategy and has appealed against the law approved by the Catalan Parliament on 26 November last.

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06 March 2015 09:52 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Government approved on Friday to take to the Constitutional Court Catalonia's Law of External Action and Relations with the EU and the opening of delegations in Vienna and Rome. The Spanish Executive will appeal against the law despite it being foreseen by the Catalan Statute of Autonomy – approved by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people through a binding referendum in 2006. The Statute of Autonomy is Catalonia's main law after the Spanish Constitution and recognises the Catalan Government's right to carry out its own external action abroad, as well as to have relations with EU institutions. In fact, Brussels is full of representations of regional governments from throughout the EU and many EU policies have a clear regional scope and affect exclusive powers of the Catalan Government. However, in the current debate about Catalonia's independence, the Spanish Government is reiterating its 'no-to-everything' attitude and recentralisation strategy and has appealed against the law approved by the Catalan Parliament on 26 November last.


The Catalan Government emphasises that it is "a political decision, not a legal one"

The Catalan Government's Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, stated that the Spanish authorities will not be able to impede the external policy, even if they try to put Catalonia "into a cage". Furthermore, Homs added that the Spanish Executive "is looking ridiculous" appealing against the opening of the delegations in Rome and Vienna. The Catalan Government has been running delegations in Brussels, Paris, London, Berlin and Washington for many years already. In addition, Homs highlighted that the Spanish Executive's decision to appeal against the law and the opening of new delegations is "a political decision, not a legal one". Despite such appeals, Homs insisted that "we will continue to be present at world level as a government, politically and to defend the economic interests" of Catalonia.

The law is very likely to be suspended, taking into account that the PP appointed the majority of the Court

If the Constitutional Court accepts to debate the appeal, the law will be immediately suspended for an initial 5-month period, which can be extended for years, until the Court reaches a definitive decision on the law. It is extremely likely that the Court will accept to debate the appeal, since the majority of its members have been appointed by the People's Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government, starting with the Court's President, Francisco Pérez de los Cobos, who was still a member of the conservative and Spanish nationalist party even after he had been appointed a member of the Constitutional body. In addition, Pérez de los Cobos, has issued in the past many anti-Catalan and xenophobic statements.

The Spanish Government argues that the law violates its exclusive powers

The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, argued that the Catalan law goes against Articles 149.1 and 97 of the Constitution, which refer to the Spanish Government's exclusive powers in international relations and to direct external policies. According to Sáenz de Santamaría, the Catalan law "violates the unity principle of the external action". She also explained that the opening of delegations in Vienna and Rome represents a development of this law, and therefore this decision will also be appealed. The Spanish Deputy PM stated that the law "aims to develop a public diplomacy for Catalonia" but "since Catalonia is not a state, it is not an international subject and does not have the capacity to set up such diplomatic relations". Sáenz de Santamaría highlighted that if the Constitutional Court accepts to take the appeal into consideration, "this means the automatic suspension of the law". Ironically, those same arguments support the idea of creating a Catalan State, as otherwise the Spanish Government could always suspend Catalonia's own policies and laws, despite they fit into the legal framework.

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  • The Spanish Deputy PM, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (left) on Friday after the weekly Cabinet meeting (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

  • The Spanish Deputy PM, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (left) on Friday after the weekly Cabinet meeting (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)