TC partially suspends Catalonia’s state structures
The Spanish Constitutional Court (TC) has unanimously suspended some precepts of the law on fiscal measures which foresees the development of so-called state structures in Catalonia. In particular, the magistrates have considered unconstitutional the plan for the creation of the Catalan Tax Agency, the catalogue of strategic infrastructures and the plans for the energy and railway sectors, amongst others. The suspension, which has now been confirmed, affects the same articles which were temporarily annulled in June 2015 when the Spanish Government asked for legal action against Catalonia’s plans for the creation of state structures. Later, in November 2015, the TC accepted the appeal presented by the Spanish executive to stop the reform of Catalonia’s Tax Agency.
Barcelona (CNA).- Some of Catalonia’s state structures, those mechanisms projected to ensure the transition to an independent state, have been declared unconstitutional by the Spanish Constitutional Court (TC). The magistrates have unanimously suspended some precepts of the law on fiscal measures which foresaw the plan for the creation of the Catalan Tax Agency, the catalogue of strategic infrastructures and the plans for the energy and railway sectors, amongst others. Indeed, the TC had already ruled against Catalonia’s Tax Agency in November last year, when it accepted an appeal presented by the Spanish Government and temporarily suspended the law for expanding the agency.
Other precepts which have been declared unconstitutional are the creation of Catalonia’s Meteorological Service and the law which foresaw the regulation of big department stores.
On the other hand, the laws on the creation of the Catalan Agency for Social Protection and the elaboration of an inventory of the public administration’s assets have been approved, although their interpretation will have to be aligned with the court’s rulings.
The articles had already been appealed by the Spanish Government
The articles which have been suspended this Thursday had already been appealed by the Spanish Executive in June 2015. They considered that these dispositions invaded competences of the Spanish Government and therefore asked for the TC suspensions.
The aim of the Executive, according to what Spanish Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría stated back then, was to leave without effect the articles which established that “in the event of a separation” the Catalan Government would assume “the functions of a state”, that is to say, based on the “unconstitutional assumption of a unilateral separation of Catalonia from the Spanish State”.
Suspension of the Catalan Tax Agency
One of the main precepts annulled this Thursday by the magistrates is the creation of the Catalan Tax Agency. In particular, the TC declared “invalid and unconstitutional” article 4 of Law 9/2015, which stipulated that all those civil servants who want to be eligible for a position in the body would need to have permanent positions in Catalonia. According to the article, those “officials who are assigned duties substantially matching those of the body and who already hold permanent positions within Catalonia’s borders” would be eligible to voluntarily join the Catalan Tax Agency through specific selection processes.
The problem, due to which the Spanish government presented the now upheld appeal, laid in the fact that a permanent position in Catalonia is required and that this denied “the right of equal access to other interested bodies from the rest of Spain”.
The Spanish Executive also pointed out that allowing civil servants who hadn’t previously worked in the Catalan administration to do so is against article 103 of the Constitution, as it would be a way of accessing ‘ex novo’ this civil service function rather than doing so “according to principles of merit and ability”.