Spanish PM Rajoy accepts to meet with Catalan President Mas in July, but not in private

July 14, 2014 09:29 PM | ACN

The Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, agrees to meet with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who sent an official request last week, before the end of July. However, the Spanish PM wants to hold "a public meeting" and not "a discrete" talk, as the Catalan President suggested. Over the past few weeks, both Rajoy and Mas have been insisting they were willing to talk to each other but neither one of them was taking the formal steps to arrange a meeting. The last official meeting between the two of them was held a year ago, without taking into account the moments the two of them have coincided at the same event and have exchanged protocol words. Furthermore, before meeting with Mas, Rajoy received on Monday representatives from the pro-Spanish unity NGO Societat Civil Catalana, founded a few months ago. In all those years, Rajoy has not officially met with the grass-roots organisations organising the massive independence demonstrations in Catalonia.

Spanish Government delays once again the publication of territorial fiscal transfers

March 21, 2014 09:36 PM | ACN

The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, announced on Friday that the publication of the so-called fiscal balances will be delayed until June, after he had promised to issue them by last December and by the current month of March. Montoro changed the calculation method in January, as the figures were used to support Catalonia's independence from Spain. Now, the new delay is "to improve" the report. This document shows how much money Catalan citizens and companies pay to the public authorities and how much returns to them through services, infrastructure and funds. A wide majority of the Catalan society has been complaining for decades that their contribution to finance services, infrastructure and funds in other parts of Spain is too excessive and they have asked for reducing such inter-territorial money transfers. Studies show that Catalans have been paying each year an average of 8% of Catalonia's GDP between 1986 and 2010, which represents 200% of Catalonia's total GDP.

Regional Government of Extremadura denies Catalonia’s fiscal contribution to the rest of Spain

March 6, 2014 05:46 PM | ACN

The Government of Extremadura, a region bordering Portugal, presented a study comparing its contributions to the rest of Spain with those of the other Autonomous Communities, particularly focusing on Catalonia. The main thrust of the report was that Catalonia receives the highest amount of money from the Spanish Government, which goes against absolutely all the previous studies that have established that Catalan taxes fund services, investments and infrastructure in the rest of Spain. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, characterised “the political document” presented by Extremadura’s Government as a “complete nonsense”. Mas-Colell, who was Professor of Economics at Berkley and Harvard from 1972 to 1995, said that the report lacked rigour and was not a technical work. The next day Extremadura’s President, José Antonio Monago, stated that Catalonia is “a privileged territory” and questioned whether it could repay its debt.

“The Europe of integration” would end if the EU expels an independent Catalonia, states the Catalan Government

February 25, 2014 03:01 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Spokesperson for the Executive, Francesc Homs, warned that “if a political solution cannot be reached” to keep Catalonia within the EU if it becomes independent from Spain, it would be “the end of Europe as a model for democratic and peaceful integration of the different peoples that form it”. On Monday, in a debate on ‘Catalonia’s political process’ held at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Law, Homs highlighted the fact that if EU Treaties had been interpreted “literally”, the financial bailouts for Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece would not have been possible. However, in this case, the EU reacted “with common sense” and for “the general interest”. Therefore, “since the EU is a project of peace and democracy, a political solution [for Catalonia] will be found, as the EU has ever done in all situations”, he stated.

Catalonia’s Tax Administration is launched to guarantee self-government

February 20, 2014 09:33 PM | ACN

The new Tax Administration of Catalonia (called ‘Tributs de Catalunya’) has been launched on Thursday in a ceremony chaired by Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan Government. Mas highlighted that “all of this is not against the Spanish State” but “an investment for a better Catalonia”. The new body was created from merging the existing Catalan Government’s Tax Agency and the ones of the four Provincial Councils (Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona). Its creation was already foreseen in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy approved by the Spanish Parliament and the Catalan people through a binding referendum in 2006. It will start with 53 branches, which will mostly deal with municipal taxes. Gradually it will dispose of up to 200 offices dedicated to ensure Catalonia’s fiscal sufficiency. The project was launched in September 2012, aiming to build “a state structure” that would ultimately be able to collect all the taxes generated in Catalonia if needed.

Two employer associations reject Catalan President’s petition to support self-determination

February 17, 2014 08:24 PM | ACN

Spain’s confederation of employer associations, CEOE, and its Catalan member, Foment del Treball – the largest business organisation in Catalonia, have rejected getting involved in the self-determination process. On Friday, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, asked employers to get involved in all of Catalonia’s three main objectives: fostering the economic recovery, maintaining social cohesion and enabling Catalonia’s self-determination. On Monday, Madrid-based CEOE and Barcelona-based Foment, representing the business establishment at Spanish and Catalan level, answered Mas: they rejected “getting involved” although on previous occasions they have lobbied against independence and against self-determination. They asked for “dialogue” between Spanish and Catalan authorities. Additionally, Foment asked for a “fiscal agreement” for Catalonia.

Self-determination process is not affecting Catalonia’s economy, states Catalan President

February 12, 2014 07:45 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, was responding to the recent concerns raised by the President of Spain’s main employers’ association CEOE and by a group of 60 German businesspeople. Mas praised the “strength” of Catalonia’s economy, being “the most dynamic in southern Europe”. He stressed that Catalonia is leading the attraction of foreign investment in the whole of southern Europe. Furthermore, in the first 6 weeks of the current year, German companies have already announced €131 million of direct investment in Catalonia. Spanish nationalist parties have stated that the self-determination claims create instability and companies do not like this. Mas replied that Catalonia “has already tried out absolutely everything [to better fit within Spain] and the answer has always been the same: ‘no, no and no, and ten thousand times no’”.

63% to back independence if Catalonia does not have greater self-government within Spain

February 10, 2014 07:37 PM | ACN

The Catalan Centre for Polling (CEO), linked to the Catalan Government, published “an experimental poll” based on 1,830 interviews on 10 different future scenarios, such as an independent Catalonia within the European Union, an independent Catalonia being expelled from the EU and independence bringing a positive economic impact. In the event that the Spanish Government insists in not changing anything regarding the current relationship between Catalonia and Spain, 62.7% of Catalans would vote “yes” in an independence referendum while 22.5% would oppose it and 7.8% would abstain. It is the highest-ever support to independence registered in an opinion poll. On the other hand, if the EU automatically expelled Catalonia if its citizens were to vote for independence, 45.4% would still vote “yes”, 37.6% would vote “no” and 12.7% would abstain. For all scenarios independence is the clear winner.

Catalan businesspeople annoyed with Spanish Government for not issuing fiscal balances

January 28, 2014 01:43 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The Catalan business community is deeply annoyed with the Spanish Government for not publishing transparent data on Catalonia’s fiscal contribution to the rest of Spain and therefore not recognising the fiscal deficit. The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, was supposed to issue the so-called fiscal balances last December but their publication was inexplicably delayed. Last Friday, in late January, Montoro announced the fiscal balances would no longer be calculated and published in the present form; instead, he would publish in March the “regionalised public figures” stating the costs of public services per citizen because the fiscal balances were “incomplete and incoherent”. However, on Tuesday, the Minister recognised that they were “correct” but “wrongly used” to support Catalan independence claims.

Catalan Socialists propose a temporary patch to better fit Catalonia into Spain

December 27, 2013 05:07 PM | ACN / Rafa Garrido

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) proposes a “singular redefinition” of Catalonia’s “fitting” within Spain that should be accomplished urgently while waiting for a global reform of the Spanish Constitution. Maurici Lucena, the PSC Spokesperson at the Catalan Parliament, told the CNA that this temporary measure should avoid “the collision” between the two sides. The measure should “shield” Catalonia’s powers, language and culture from recentralisation and homogenisation attempts, and it would also include a fairer fiscal scheme. In the coming weeks, the PSC will try to convince the PSOE – to which is federated – about it. This proposal is quite similar to the Catalan Statute of Autonomy that was approved in 2006, but trimmed in 2010 by the Constitutional Court following an appeal from the People’s Party (PP) – which now runs the Spanish Government.

Rajoy insists he will not negotiate on Catalonia’s self-determination

December 17, 2013 08:17 PM | ACN

The Spanish Prime Minister replied on Tuesday to the President of the Catalan Government’s proposal to discuss in a private meeting the question wording, date, and procedure of Catalonia’s self-determination vote. The Financial Times had also urged the Spanish Government to negotiate and make an offer to Catalans, while adding that “the ingredients” for a solution can be found in Catalonia’s question. While Mariano Rajoy answered he was open to meet with Artur Mas, he added he has nothing to negotiate on and nothing new to say. “The [Spanish] Government will not make any concession” regarding Catalonia’s self-determination. In addition, Rajoy insisted the vote “will not take place”. Furthermore, he added that Catalonia will not have a special funding scheme.

A last-minute protocol change makes the Catalan President cancel a dinner with the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister

October 17, 2013 10:09 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas is the most senior public figure in Catalonia, just after the King of Spain and the Spanish Prime Minister. However, at Thursday’s scheduled dinner with the main Catalan business association ‘Foment’ and the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, a last-minute change in the protocol put Mas in second place. The Catalan President considered that “conditions had changed” and as a protest he announced he was not going to the dinner. Instead, the Catalan Minister for Business and Employment was representing him. ‘Foment’ has been ambivalent regarding Catalonia’s self-determination process, although it supports the claim for finding a negotiated way out of the current political situation by organising a legal referendum.

A self-determination vote without a ‘third way’ and a more social budget for 2014

September 26, 2013 11:46 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) agreed on speeding up the process of building “state structures” and drafting the “most social budget” in Catalonia’s recent history. In addition, Mas criticised the ‘third way’ between independence from Spain and the current situation proposed by the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and CiU’s ‘number 2’, saying that Catalans “have been trying” this way “for the last 100 years” and “it has never worked”. Spanish nationalist People’s Party (PP) and Ciutadans (C’s) called on Mas to stop the self-determination process. However, the main Catalan parties, from left to right and representing 77% of the parliamentary seats, presented a common text supporting Catalonia’s right to self-determination through a legal vote.

The Catalan Government raises the tax on second-hand real estate sales to earn an additional €150 million

June 19, 2013 01:44 AM | CNA

The Wealth Transfer Tax, which is levied on sales of second-hand housing units and any other used real estate, will be raised from 8% to 10% as from the 1st of August. The Catalan Government expects to earn an additional €50 million in 2013 and €150 million in 2014. The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, argued that the rise in the tax rate is equivalent to the VAT charged on sales of new housing units and that both taxes should be “parallel”. He also added that other Autonomous Communities had previously raised this tax to similar levels.

Catalonia contributed with 8.5% of its GDP to infrastructures and services in the rest of Spain in 2010

May 22, 2013 01:42 AM | CNA

On Tuesday, the Catalan Government posted the so-called fiscal balances for 2010, showing the difference between the money paid by Catalans in taxes and fees to the Spanish Government and what comes back in form of funds, services and infrastructure. Using the monetary flow formula, Catalonia had a fiscal deficit of €16.54 billion, representing 8.5% of its GDP. Using the benefit formula, the fiscal deficit represents 5.8% of the Catalan GDP (€11.26 billion). The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, stated that both formulas “are complementary” but he found the monetary flow one to be closer to the reality. The figures are similar to the results from previous years as well as to the study published in 2008 by the Spanish Finance Ministry with data from 2005. In the last 25 years, Catalonia has given away 8.1% of its GDP each year.