Madrid’s seizure of Catalan finances has cost €475m
Economy secretary slams central government’s handling of spending in Catalonia, while ‘Nature’ magazine says measure threatens research
The seizing of Catalonia’s public finances by the Spanish government has so far cost 475 million euros, according to Catalan economy secretary, Pere Aragonès. Talking to the Catalan TV3 television channel, Aragonés said that the restrictions on the Catalan executive’s budgetary powers had affected the funding of areas like “research, culture and support for industry.” The secretary also criticized the Spanish executive for taking 12 days to pay the Catalan government’s bills for essential services.
Spain’s central government formally took over Catalonia’s 1.4 billion euro monthly budget on September 21, so as to prevent any public money from being spent on the unilateral independence referendum to be held on Sunday. Effectively, the Catalan government’s bank accounts were blocked, with responsibility for public spending in Catalonia passing directly to the treasury in Madrid.
"The repercussions of this chaotic deadlock has also reached research laboratories"
Nature · Science magazine
Yet, the Catalan authorities have been critical of the central executive’s handling of the public finances. On Thursday, Aragonès pointed the finger at the executive in Madrid saying “they are late, they have unlawfully seized our finances and have done so in an absolutely brutal manner.... We provide essential services to Catalan society but, as they do not know this society, they carry out measures that are totally wrong,” he said.
Research under threat, says ‘Nature’
Meanwhile, the prestigious scientific journal ‘Nature’ was also critical of the seizure of Catalan finances. The magazine said that the measure “threatened” Catalonia’s top research institutes, which the country has “meticulously” built up in recent years. “The repercussions of this chaotic deadlock has also reached research laboratories,” it warned in an editorial.
The magazine also provides an overview of how independence might affect the scientific community in Catalonia. Stating that “science has a lot to gain from independence, but also a lot to lose,” the ‘Nature’ editorial goes on to say that “many scientists believe that an independent Catalonia could change the situation of science in an even more crucial way, in particular because it could free universities from outmoded and inflexible state regulations.”