Rajoy further recentralises powers: Catalan Government to need permission to back companies

June 8, 2015 09:54 PM | ACN

In times of economic crisis, the Mariano Rajoy-led Spanish Government has been making recentralisation a main driver of its political agenda, using the economic recovery as the reason for passing the reforms. An additional step in this direction was taken on Monday with a new regulation forcing Spanish Autonomous Communities to seek permission from the Spanish Ministry of Finance before granting loans and guarantees to private companies located in their territories. From now on, Madrid's permission will be conditional upon the applicant's compliance with deficit targets. The new regulation substantially curbs the Autonomies' powers to shape their industrial policies, following a reform passed in May that modifies both the Organic Law for Financing the Autonomous Communities and the Organic Law on Budgetary Stability and Financial Sustainability.

Catalan Police Chief accuses Spanish Government of not sharing information affecting Catalonia's security

April 16, 2015 10:03 PM | ACN

The highest-ranked officer of the Catalan Government's Police Force Mossos d'Esquadra, Chief Josep Lluís Trapero, has accused the Spanish Police Force of not sharing important information that affects Catalonia's security. Despite the Mossos d'Esquadra force being in charge of the main police tasks for Catalonia, it does not have access to relevant intelligence that the Spanish Police receives from international organisations and foreign police corps. Trapero emphasised that the Catalan Police has international level powers since 2006 and therefore is legally entitled to receive such information. However, the Spanish Police always keeps it for itself, which "makes our work more difficult", complained Trapero, and thus diminishes Catalonia's overall security.

Catalan Socialist leader insists on a Constitutional Reform as the "only" solution for the current political situation

December 10, 2014 10:47 PM | ACN

Miquel Iceta, First Secretary of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), proposed his road map for the coming two years: no early elections and broad Constitutional Reform to better fit Catalonia into a federal Spain. On Wednesday Iceta held his own conference after those of the Catalan President and leader of the centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, and the left-wing independence party (ERC), Oriol Junqueras. While the two others support independence, Iceta opposes it. He totally rejected the road maps proposed by Mas and Junqueras and insisted on the need to work "on the real problems of Catalans", such as poverty, unemployment, budget cuts in public healthcare, etc. However, the PSC leader admitted that "there will be no solution without a vote", but "a real vote". Iceta said that before breaking up with Spain, Catalans should be allowed to vote on "a new agreement" to remain in Spain. In order to facilitate such a new agreement, he proposed that the Spanish Government cancel part of the Autonomous Communities' debt.

Catalan Finance Minister accuses Rajoy of discrediting Spain’s regional governments

November 29, 2014 12:15 AM | ACN

The European Commission has warned Spain about its budget for 2015 and the possibility of meeting the global deficit target of 4.2%. It has asked the Spanish Government to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee that the 2015 budget will respect the Stability and Growth Pact. The Spanish Minister for the Economy answered back and affirmed that no additional measures will be adopted since the planned budget and the forecast economic growth “are enough”. The Commission also demanded that the Spanish Government put “more pressure” on the Autonomous Communities that will not meet their deficit target for 2014, which is likely the case of Catalonia. Brussels directly asked for the implementation of “corrective measures” in these cases. However, the Commission did not make any comment on whether such deficit targets unilaterally imposed by Madrid are fair or realistic. In fact, the Catalan Finance Minister accused the Spanish Government of putting the blame on the Autonomous Communities and “discrediting” them, in order to recentralise powers. 

Christian-Democrat leader introduces new initiative to promote a Catalan State within Spain

November 24, 2014 09:57 PM | ACN

After months of speculation, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, the leader of the Christian-Democrat party UDC – which is the smallest force within the governing  two-party centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU – presented his new political initiative to build an alternative option between the current territorial model and independence from Spain. Duran has been advocating for the creation of a confederated Catalan State within a more decentralised Spain, which would recognise Catalonia's nationhood, respect Catalan language and launch a fairer inter-territorial fiscal scheme for Catalan interests. With the platform 'Construïm' ('We build', in English), Duran is now trying to reach new potential voters "who feel orphaned from any political party"; voters worried about "social issues" and the economy, "beyond the debate about independence". With early elections on the horizon, the initiative is likely to represent the split of the CiU, which has been the main actor of Catalan politics for the last 35 years.

Spanish Government defends teaching a single history of Spain

January 17, 2014 03:32 PM | ACN

The Spanish Education Minister, José Ignacio Wert, emphasised the need to have a common and single history of Spain taught in all the Autonomous Communities. With the Education Reform he is currently proposing, the history curriculum will be imposed by Madrid and the Autonomous Communities will only be able to add a small portion referring to their own history. However, such additional contentswill be excluded from the final exams and therefore pupils will tend to ignorethem. With this initiative, Wert aims to impose a single interpretation of the historic facts affecting Spain’s history and nation-building. Lately, the Spanish Government, run by the People’s Party (PP), has repeatedly stated that Spain is “the oldest nation in Europe” and is now focusing on the education system to spread this idea.

Spanish Government aims to recentralise power by eliminating some Catalan institutions

December 4, 2013 02:22 PM | ACN

The Spanish Executive has presented a 720-page report in which it proposes 120 measures “to eliminate duplications” and “improve the coordination” between government levels in order to “rationalise” and “increase the efficiency” of the public sector. However, the initiative proposes a true recentralisation of Spain, since almost all the measures point towards transferring powers and services back to the Spanish Government. The Catalan Executive and the non-Spanish-nationalist parties have announced a common front to stop “the pruning” of Catalonia’s self-government. Madrid’s document proposes the direct elimination of several institutions that are defined in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, approved by citizens through a binding referendum. Furthermore, it cancels pending power devolutions, which had been planned for years but whose effective transfer has been constantly delayed.

54.7% of Catalans would vote for independence in a referendum

November 22, 2013 09:35 PM | ACN

According to a poll from the Catalan Centre for Polling (CEO), 54.7% of Catalans would vote “yes” to independence while 22.1% would vote “no” and 15.7% are undecided. The poll shows similar percentages than the other polls issued in the last few months from several different institutions and companies. However, the poll indicates that for the first time, independence is the clear preferred alternative among possible formulas for the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. Independence would be the preferred scenario for 48.5% of Catalans, while those in favour of a federal Spain with Catalonia having greater powers represent 21.3% of the interviewees. Finally, the Catalans that prefer maintaining the current status quo amount to 18.6%.

The Catalan Government approves its own municipal law and rejects that of the Spanish Executive

July 30, 2013 11:25 PM | ACN

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.

More than half of recently graduated Spanish Police agents to be sent to Catalonia

July 29, 2013 09:25 PM | ACN

The Spanish National Police has allocated more than half of its recently graduated agents to be sent to Catalonia. Of the 418 that passed the police training this year, 231 are destined to work in Catalonia, a figure which represents 55% of the total. The Director General of the Spanish Police, Ignacio Cosidó, stated how these figures show that the force “has a strong willingness to remain in Catalonia”. He also added that the Spanish Government prioritises security within Catalonia. However, the Catalan Police, called the Mossos d’Esquadra, has the majority of police power in Catalonia, except customs control and the fight against international and organised crime. In the rest of Spain – except the Basque Country – Spanish Police does the majority of the police work.

Catalonia rejects giving away power recognised by its main law and regrets the Spanish Government's recentralisation

June 22, 2013 12:00 AM | CNA

On Friday, the Spanish Government approved a €37.7 billion reform of Spain’s public sector which fosters the elimination of Autonomous Community bodies considered to be “redundant”. Instead of directly obliging the Autonomous Communities to eliminate them – which might be very tricky legally speaking, the Spanish Executive will link their suppression to the deficit targets allowed to the regional governments and the funds provided. However, in the case of Catalonia, most of the bodies included in the reform are recognised by Catalonia’s main law, approved in 2006 by the Spanish Parliament and through a binding referendum. The Catalan Government and most of the political parties are accusing the Spanish Executive of trying to recentralise Spain. In addition, the Catalan President said that unfortunately Madrid “teaches lessons” but “does not do its homework” and eliminates Ministries without competences.

55.6% of Catalans would support independence from Spain in a referendum while 23.4% would oppose it

June 21, 2013 01:43 AM | CNA

According to an opinion poll from the Catalan Polling Centre (CEO), the Catalan political landscape would change, since the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) would would become the largest force in the Catalan Parliament after doubling the number of its MPs compared to the electoral results from last November. Meanwhile, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), which has been running the Catalan Government since 2010, would continue to lose support. However, parties supporting Catalonia’s independence increase their total support while the number of those defending Spain’s unity drops. The CEO thinks the data show that over the last 9 months, the support for independence remains “stable” in a hypothetical referendum, ranging between 54% and 57%. However, those opposing independence grew from 20.7% to 23.4%, while the number of undecided citizens decreased to 15%.

The Catalan Government accuses the Spanish Executive of invading competences and duplicating rules and services

October 24, 2012 01:15 AM | CNA

The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, presented a report that analyses the normative and organisation duplicities at Spanish and Catalan level. The study, compiled by a Catalan Government's institute, concludes that the Spanish Government permanently invades Catalonia’s exclusive competences, both at normative and organisational levels. According to Homs, the Spanish Government’s attitude creates “contradictions” and “legal uncertainty”, which harms investments and the economy. Homs accused the Spanish Government of “keeping important administrative structures” despite having decentralised the competence, as is the case with tourism.