New Catalan offices abroad approved again despite provisional suspension

Catalan government moves forward with seats in Tunisia, Mexico and Argentina, halted by court

Foreign affairs minister Alfred Bosch speaks in the Catalan parliament on December 11, 2019 (by Guillem Roset)
Foreign affairs minister Alfred Bosch speaks in the Catalan parliament on December 11, 2019 (by Guillem Roset) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 15, 2020 03:05 PM

The Catalan government has again approved the offices abroad provisionally suspended by Catalonia's high court (TSJC).

After a challenge by former Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell – now the EU's head of diplomacy –, Catalonia's top judges temporarily halted the offices while taking a final decision on it.

The Catalan government intends to resume the work of the delegations in Tunisia, Mexico and Argentina, which have not been inaugurated, but have their heads appointed. 

Borrell appealed the decree greenlighting the three new seats – and as it is now suspended, the Catalan cabinet passed on Wednesday three separate decrees with similar content to allow the creation of each of them.

The same mechanism was used to dodge Spain's appeals to offices in the UK and Ireland, Germany, the US, Italy, France and Switzerland, which managed to reopen after the period of direct rule in 2017-2018 saw them closed down.

Offices abroad part of 'secessionist plan'

The Madrid cabinet claimed in October that they are "harmful" for Spain and part of a "secessionist plan" – while the TSJC works on a final decision on Spain's appeal, the decree launching them will be suspended.

Spain's foreign ministry, led by the EU's diplomacy head-nominee, Josep Borrell, also argued that the offices should be blocked in order to "avoid the damages to Spain's image that would be difficult or impossible to repair, and to its foreign policy action that they will undoubtedly undertake" if the delegations were opened.

Shortly afterwards, Catalonia's foreign minister, Alfred Bosch, called Madrid's appeal "inadmissible" and nominated the new delegates despite the challenge.

In his speech before being re-elected Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez pledged to leave "judicialisation" of the Catalan conflict behind.

Network of international offices abroad

The ultimate aim of Bosch is to "consolidate the network of representation abroad and the presence of Catalonia in Latin America and the Maghreb." 

If the Mexican, Argentinean and Tunisian seats are launched in the end, the country will have 15 offices around the world. 

All of Catalonia’s delegations were closed by Madrid in 2017, except for the one in Brussels. When the Catalan Parliament appointed a new president after six months of suspended self-rule, one of the first measures the government announced was the relaunch of the network of foreign delegations.