Catalonia against the Spanish Government’s unilateral decision to increase highway toll prices by 7.5%
Catalan political parties, business associations, and many citizens are outraged by the decision to increase toll prices in Catalonia, while in the rest of Spain there are many toll-free highways. The Catalan Transport Minister asked the Spanish Government to implement a “soft toll” throughout Spain, instead of increasing toll prices in Catalonia. He reminded that for some journeys within Catalonia, there are no free of charge alternatives to the tolled highways. Catalan nationalists see this measure as a new proof of Catalonia’s high fiscal deficit, paying much more to the rest of Spain than what it gets in return. The People’s Party (PP), running the Spanish Executive, asked the Catalan Government to reduce the price of its tolls.
Barcelona (ACN).- The price for using the AP-7, the AP-2 and the C-33 highways, managed by the Spanish Government, increased this weekend by 7.5%. Most of Catalonia\u2019s political parties, the main business association and many citizens have been outraged by the Spanish Government\u2019s unilateral decision, since it mainly affects Catalonia but not the rest of Spain. In fact, most of the highways in Catalonia have tolls, while in the rest of Spain most of the highways are free of tolls. For this reason, the Catalan Transport Minister, Lluís Recoder, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), asked to implement a \u201Csoft toll\u201D throughout Spain, if revenues are needed to reduce public deficit. However, he protested against a decision that mainly affects Catalonia and has almost no effect in the rest of Spain. In addition, Recoder highlighted the fact that the most important journeys through Catalonia (such as going from Barcelona to Girona or Tarragona) have no viable free-of-charge alternatives. Recoder said that the road that is free of charge has only one lane per direction in many spots (the N-II), and it already absorbs 30,000 vehicles per day. In addition, he emphasised that in the rest of Spain there are free of charge highways with less than 5,000 vehicles per day. However, the People\u2019s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, asked the Catalan Executive to reduce the toll prices of the highways it manages instead of complaining.
Eliminating or reducing tolls on Catalonia\u2019s highways has been a constant claim by Catalan civil society and political parties. In the last four months, due to the economic crisis, this claim has been invigorated, with some citizens rebelling and refusing to pay tolls. Faced by this situation, instead of reducing or eliminating the tolls, the Spanish Government has decided to increase them by 7.5%. This decision has outraged Catalan civil society, such as the main business association. In addition, most of the political parties in Catalonia have protested against it.
Catalan nationalists consider this decision increases Catalonia\u2019s high fiscal deficit, increasing the difference between what Catalan citizens give to the rest of Spain and what they receive back. Official studies have stated Catalonia gives 8.5% of its GDP to the rest of Spain each year in terms of solidarity, representing \u20AC17 billion. For Catalan nationalists, this quantity is excessive and is tantamount to plundering, which damages the economy and impedes to pay basic citizen services in Catalonia.