Catalan Government to open new delegations abroad in the coming weeks
The Catalan Government has approved its 'Strategic Plan for the External Action 2015-2018', which foresees the opening of additional delegations abroad. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, who is in charge of External Relations, announced that some of these delegations may be opened in the coming weeks. Homs admitted that the Spanish Government may appeal against the new delegations and the plan, as it did with the delegations in Rome and Vienna, and the External Action Law. The Law was approved last November but was already foreseen in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy from 2006. In addition, Catalonia's own external action was validated by the Spanish Constitutional Court in 2010. With the independence debate on the table, the Spanish Government is insisting on reducing the number of delegations and controlling their activities.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Government approved on Tuesday its 'Strategic Plan for the External Action 2015-2018', which foresees the opening of additional delegations abroad, as well as the strengthening of Catalonia's relationship with international institutions and the EU. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, who is also in charge of External Relations, announced that some of these delegations may be opened in the coming weeks. Homs admitted that the Spanish Government may appeal against such a plan and the opening of new delegations, as it did with the delegations in Rome and Vienna, and the External Action Law. However, the new plan is based on a section of the law that has not been appealed, according to Homs. The Law was approved last November but was already foreseen in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy (which is Catalonia's main law after the Constitution) from 2006. In addition, the Catalan Government's external action and its delegations abroad were validated by the Spanish Constitutional Court in 2010. In the current debate over Catalonia's potential independence from Spain, the Spanish Government is insisting on reducing the number of delegations and controlling their activities. However, Homs emphasised that the Catalan Government "will go on", despite the "coward attitude" of the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, "who bans what he does not like". Now, a consultation process with civil society organisations and stakeholders will be opened, in order to propose amendments to the Plan. Then, it will be sent to the Catalan Parliament for the final approval process, said Homs.
In a press conference held after the weekly Cabinet Meeting, Francesc Homs, confirmed that "in the current term" – which should finish in about 4 months if elections are finally held on 27 September as announced – additional delegations abroad will be opened, in addition to the offices in Rome and Vienna. Homs has not specified their number or location, in order not to clear the road "for those who without any shame try to destroy everything", "in order for them to not have time to stop things from growing". "I must preserve our own strategy", he stressed. In February, the Catalan Government stated that "in a few years’ time", there will be some 50 delegations abroad, although their main tasks will be economic, such as assisting Catalan companies selling their products abroad or attracting foreign investment.
Catalonia's 'Strategic Plan for the External Action' for the coming 3 years sets 4 main objectives. Firstly, "the promotion and defence of Catalonia in Europe and throughout the world, by internationalising the economy, culture and knowledge about the country", as stated in the Catalan Government's press release. Secondly, "strengthening Catalonia's European and Mediterranean vocation, as well as defending its interests before the EU or other institutions with a European or Mediterranean scope". Thirdly, "contributing to objectives with a global reach: peace, security, human rights, sustainable development, social justice and active multilateralism", and finally, "promoting a more modern and efficient diplomacy, which provides support and services to Catalans abroad and helps them get a higher profile".
The Plan outlines 17 secondary goals, distributed within these 4 major objectives. It also identifies 143 areas that will be developed through concrete measures and actions that will have to be undertaken by the different departments of the Catalan Government and other public institutions. Besides this, in order to reach these objectives, Catalonia's own External Action "will need a series of tools and resources, in order to develop its tasks with full effectiveness and efficiency", reads the press release.
The document foresees 3 main groups of tools, which will be developed through 33 specific actions. The first group aims to foster, expand and professionalise Catalonia's governmental structures of external action and services. Secondly, they will aim to build and strengthen Catalonia's bilateral relations and alliances with other actors, networks and international organisations. Thirdly, the measures will work for fostering Catalonia's own participation and relations with "the EU institutions and bodies in order to represent, defend and promote the country's general interests".
The Plan has been approved because the Spanish Government did not appeal against Article 15 of Catalonia's External Action Law, which is the Article talking about the Plan. Therefore, the Plan can be approved, since this specific Article had not been temporarily suspended by the Constitutional Court when it accepted to debate the Spanish Government's appeal. However, Homs stressed that most of the time, "the debate is not a legal one", but political, since the Spanish Government systematically appeals against the measures it does not share. "Instead of having the courage to fight [those things] democratically, they simply destroy them" through court appeals, he emphasised. Such an attitude represents an "abuse of power", according to the Catalan Minister.