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The Spanish Government aims to “centralise” the external action services of the Autonomous Communities

The Spanish Government has presented its project to approve an External Action Law aiming to “centralise services” and to have the Autonomous Communities’ external action “coordinated and subordinated” to the principles and objectives of the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry. The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, has “invited” the Autonomous Communities to integrate their teams into those of the Spanish embassies. However, he also recognised that many Spanish embassies and consulates lack business services to assist companies and attract foreign investment. The Catalan Government’s offices abroad are mostly focused on these economic objectives.

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01 March 2013 10:36 PM

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ACN

Madrid (ACN).- On Friday the Spanish Government presented its project to approve an External Action Law aiming to \u201Ccentralise services\u201D and to have the Autonomous Communities\u2019 external action \u201Ccoordinated and subordinated\u201D to the principles and objectives of the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry. This is a particularly controversial issue, since the Spanish Government announced this law a couple of months ago, a few months after Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process had held the world\u2019s attention. Furthermore, Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, has been particularly active against Catalonia\u2019s self-determination, contacting many capitals throughout the world, pressuring European institutions and describing threatening scenarios. On Friday, García-Margallo, \u201Cinvited\u201D the Autonomous Communities to integrate their external action teams into those of the Spanish embassies. However, he also recognised the fact that many Spanish embassies and consulates lack business services to assist companies and attract foreign investment. The Catalan Government\u2019s offices abroad are mostly focused on these economic objectives. The Catalan Executive has 5 political representation offices and 34 commercial ones; in addition, almost all of the political representation delegations are integrated with an economic office. The 34 commercial offices help Catalan companies to access new markets and find new clients abroad. They also work to attract foreign investment. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, noted on Friday that having a presence abroad is not a caprice but a necessity in a globalised economy.


The Catalan President celebrated the fact that the Spanish Government has slightly altered its original project of Law, aiming to annul the Autonomous Communities\u2019 external action. However, he lamented the fact that they have tried \u201Cto confine\u201D these activities for political reasons. Mas was addressing the press next to the Welsh Prime Minister, Carwyn Jones, after the two of them met to strengthen economic ties. Mas insisted that it is absurd \u201Cto put obstacles in an open field\u201D. \u201CThere is nothing more old-fashioned that not being present abroad\u201D, considering the globalized world and economy. In fact, Mas wondered what would have happened if  Catalonia had not currently been open to the world and Catalan companies had not reached new markets to sell their products: \u201CWe would have a recession twice as big as the current one\u201D, he emphasised. In this vein, Carwyn Jones praised the openness of Catalonia\u2019s economy and society and he stated that, according to him, it is the southern-European area with the greatest possibilities for recovery and growth thanks to its external orientation. Actually, Catalonia leads Spanish exports and the export and tourism sectors have become the two main sectors with positive results last year.

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  • The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister (left) on Friday (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)

  • The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister (left) on Friday (by R. Pi de Cabanyes)