The Catalan Government approves its own municipal law and rejects that of the Spanish Executive
The Catalan Government has reminded it has the exclusive powers to rule local governments in Catalonia, an authority which stems from the Catalan Statute of Autonomy approved by the Spanish Parliament and a binding referendum. Therefore, it does not recognise the Spanish Government’s law proposal on local governments, approved last week in Madrid, and will reject any imposition. The new Catalan law foresees the volunteer merging of municipalities and elimination of 1,034 remunerated positions in the County Councils. It also reshapes the body managing services within the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. Furthermore, it strengthens the control on the creation of new local bodies and the public services offered by municipalities.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Catalan Government approved its own bill on local governments in Catalonia. Furthermore, at the press conference after the weekly Cabinet Meeting, the Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, has reminded the Catalan Government has the exclusive powers to legislate on local governments in Catalonia, an authority which stems from the Statute of Autonomy approved by the Spanish Parliament and a binding referendum. Therefore, the Catalan Executive does not recognise the Spanish Government’s law proposal on local governments, approved last week in Madrid, and will reject any imposition in this area. Homs stated that the Spanish law “endangers” the Welfare State, according to a report made by experts on social policies. The Catalan Government believes the public services offered by municipalities should be rationalised as well as the size and the organisation of the different government levels in Catalonia. In addition, it should be clarified “who does what”, which government level manages what power. However, the Catalan Government claims it has the right to do it following its own way as it is legally entitled to, and not following a reform imposed by the Spanish Executive. In fact, the Catalan Government had been working on the local government law proposal for the last two years, holding talks with the several stakeholders and taking into account the local sensitivities. However, the Spanish Government already stated it intends that its reform will also affect municipalities and other local government bodies in Catalonia. Therefore, it is likely the issue will end at the Constitutional Court, which will have to decide which level of government can rule on Catalonia’s municipalities.
Merging municipalities, reducing paid positions and rationalising public services
The new Catalan law foresees the volunteer merging of municipalities, taking into account historical, identity-related, geographical and economic reasons. In addition, municipalities will be fostered to share services whenever is necessary and minimum quality standards will be set. In addition, the Catalan Government will not be able to delegate services to municipalities without transferring an attached budget. Furthermore, the new law strengthens the control on the creation of new local bodies – with the aim to reduce their number – and the public services offered by municipalities in order to better adjust the services offered to the budget. County Councils will continue offering common services, an option that will be strengthened increasing their technical nature. In this respect, 1,034 remunerated political positions in the County Councils will be eliminated. On top of this, these bodes will be governed by a Council of Mayors. The new law eliminates Barcelona’s County Council and it reshapes the body managing services within the Barcelona Metropolitan Area. Furthermore, the law will set retribution levels for mayors and councillors, according to the municipality size. Among other dispositions, the new law aims to increase transparency, obliging local governments to publish on a website public contracts and retributions. Additionally, measures to allow citizen participation will have to be in place for municipalities with more than 5,000 inhabitants. The Catalan Government calculated the reform will save €1 billion every four years.