francesc homs

Catalan authorities appeal against the suspension of self-determination vote but stop direct preparations

September 30, 2014 09:17 PM | ACN

The Catalan Government and Parliament will file allegations against the Constitutional Court's temporary suspension of the Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling November's self-determination consultation vote. The temporary suspension was approved on Monday evening and entered into force this Tuesday morning. Despite the appeal against the Constitutional Court's action, the Catalan Government has decided to "temporarily" suspend the institutional campaign and direct preparations for the 9th of November's consultation vote on Catalonia's political future. The Spokesperson of the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, explained that such a decision was made "to prevent public employees from being backed into a corner", as the Spanish authorities could persecute them.  The left-wing parties clearly supporting independence – ERC and CUP – want to disobey the Court's temporary verdict, but the governing and centre-right CiU as well as the greens and post-communists ICV-EUiA want to continue with the vote's preparations wherever legally possible. In addition, thousands of people are demonstrating in front of Catalonia's town halls against the Constitutional Court's decision.

Rajoy takes the Catalan consultation vote to the Constitutional Court, which is holding an early meeting

September 29, 2014 06:35 PM | ACN

The Spanish Government held an extraordinary meeting this Monday morning to approve the appeals against the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes and the decree calling the 9th of November consultation vote. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, considered the Catalan measures to be "antidemocratic" and "an attempt against the rights of all Spaniards". The appeals were filed at 1:15 pm and, after this, the Constitutional Court announced it was holding an extraordinary meeting at 6:30 pm, instead of waiting until the next regular meeting, scheduled for the 7th of October. Furthermore, the Spanish Government's main advisory body, the Council of State, gave their recommendation on Sunday evening to file the appeals. Such a recommendation came after the Spanish Government asked for it on Saturday morning, the first time in Spain's democratic history that such a body reacted so quickly. The Catalan Government advised Rajoy and the Constitutional Court to be very careful with their decisions, as they could make "the greatest mistake in Spain's democracy".

The Catalan Government will restore public employee's full salary in 2015 after a 3-year reduction

September 9, 2014 10:07 PM | ACN

In 2015 the employees of the Catalan Government and related institutions and public companies will receive their full salary once again after having suffered a 7.5% reduction over the last 3 years. The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, announced the measure on Tuesday, after the weekly Cabinet meeting. Furthermore, the Executive will also stop the 15% reduction of working hours and salary of temporary workers in the public sector. Those austerity measures were approved in the 2012 budget as a drastic way to cut public spending in order to reduce the public deficit. The Spanish Government has been unilaterally imposing strict deficit targets on the Catalan Executive while it maintained an unfair inter-territorial fiscal scheme with Catalonia and reduced its resources. In fact, the Spanish Government and most of the other Autonomous Communities did not reduce public salaries in the worst years of economic crisis, while the Catalan Government was the first one to launch the ambitious austerity plan.

Spanish Government links Pujol's fraud with support for Catalan independence

September 2, 2014 08:17 PM | ACN

The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, did not hesitate to link the fiscal fraud confessed by the former Catalan President, Jordi Pujol, to the rest of the politicians supporting Catalonia's independence. In a public hearing before the Spanish Parliament, as the manager of the country's Tax Agency, Montoro said that "those who radicalise their political speeches, pretending to challenge the State, are at the same time making money out of it and earning personal benefits", putting Jordi Pujol together with all those supporting independence. In addition, Montoro stated that the Spanish Tax Agency will act against Pujol and launch "administrative and judicial" processes. The Catalan Government accused Montoro of using the State's structures to back "partisan interests" instead of merely "fighting fraud". Furthermore, the CiU criticised Montoro for linking Pujol's case to the Catalan self-determination process.

Catalan President tells all Government Ministers and Directors that self-determination vote will take place

September 2, 2014 07:06 PM | ACN

The President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, held an exceptional meeting on Monday evening with all the Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Directors of the Government he chairs in order to prepare for the coming weeks, which are crucial in the self-determination process. Mas told the 200 people present about "his certainty" that "there will be a consultation vote, that he will call it and that people will vote", summed up Francesc Homs, Minister for the Presidency and Spokesperson for the Executive, at the end of the meeting. The President asked them to be "committed" and play "a leading role" within the self-determination vote instead of being "mere spectators or commenters", since "the country is ready". "Obviously this [the self-determination vote] is an operation including the entire country, and a lot of people, but the Government is also part of it in a very essentials way, and he asked us to honour this in such decisive times", added Homs.

Catalan Government insists in its "unequivocal commitment" to November self-determination vote

August 26, 2014 09:40 PM | ACN

"The time for speculation is over; now it is time for decisions, and this goes for everybody", stated the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, after the first Cabinet Meeting held after the summer break. Homs was referring to the Spanish Prime Minister's monolithic opposition to the self-determination vote and to the warning sent by the leader of the left-wing independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras. The ERC President "cannot imagine" somebody "breaking the enormous unity" around the independence consultation vote, scheduled for the 9th of November, which is "the only scenario" agreed on.  Homs insisted in the Catalan Government's "unequivocal commitment" to such a vote. However, he rejected making any speculation on how Catalan authorities should react "to things that have not passed", referring to the likely ban from the Spanish Constitutional Court to the November vote. "We are entering a new stage", he concluded.

Jordi Pujol's fiscal fraud becomes a threat for self-determination process

July 28, 2014 09:35 PM | ACN

Catalan politics and society are shocked after Jordi Pujol, President of the Catalan Government between 1980 and 2003, confessed on Friday evening that his family had €4 million in Andorra for 35 years which had never been declared to the tax authorities. Madrid-based media and politicians have immediately linked Pujol's scandal to Catalonia's self-determination with the aim to delegitimise the process since the retired politician had been the historical leader of the conservative Catalan nationalists. Parties supporting self-determination have distanced themselves from Pujol, including CDC, the Liberal party he founded in 1974 during Franco's dictatorship that now runs the Catalan Government. It is expected that Jordi Pujol (84) will resign as CDC's Founding President in the next few hours. His confession comes after his family and particularly two of his sons have been targeted by the media and judicial investigations for corruption since 2012.

Catalan President accepts to meet with Rajoy this July in public, but would prefer a discrete meeting

July 15, 2014 06:31 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Government Spokesperson Francesc Homs, said on Tuesday that the President of the Generalitat, Artur Mas, is willing to accept the meeting formula proposed by the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. Spain's PM rejected a discrete meeting and insisted it should be public, despite the fact the Catalan President had requested a private interview. Nonetheless, Homs said it would be better, "and overwhelming common sense", to hold the meeting in private, without the media focus on it, because that would allow it to be  "more productive." "But if it cannot be this way, we will do as they want," Homs said at a press conference, and insisted that the interview format will pose “no problems.”

“Every nation seeks a friendly State”, states Catalan Minister in a self-determination debate at Geneva University

June 6, 2014 10:24 PM | ACN

The University of Geneva hosted on Friday a debate on the future of Catalonia and the question of self-determination, in the first activity of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) in Switzerland. The event, organised by the Global Studies Institute of the University of Geneva in collaboration with the Swiss daily newspaper 'Le Temps', was attended by more than 150 people, who actively participated in the debate. Guest speakers included Francesc Homs, Catalan Minister for the Presidency Office and Spokesperson for the Government of Catalonia, Mercè Barceló, Chair of Constitutional Law at the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona (UAB), and the Director of the Global Studies Institute, Nicolas Levrat.

Catalan Government feels “stronger” after the European elections and asks Rajoy to talk

May 27, 2014 11:43 PM | ACN

The Spokesperson for the Catalan Executive, Francesc Homs, today stated that the results of the European elections and the turnout increase in Catalonia make the ruling cabinet feel “stronger”. “It is clear that the political project managed [by the Catalan Government] has great support”, he said. The centre-right pro-Catalan state coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), which runs the Executive, increased its support by 100,000 additional votes compared to the 2009 elections, although its percentage of the vote did drop slightly from 22.4% to 21.9% due to a higher turnout. Overall, parties supporting this November’s independence vote obtained more than 55% of the votes cast, while those totally opposed to self-determination lost out, receiving less than 16% of the votes. For this reason, Homs asked the Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, to start talking again about how to authorise a self-determination vote.

Spanish Government plans to halve the Catalan Public Television Broadcaster's channel frequencies

May 19, 2014 08:36 PM | ACN

The Catalan Executive raised the alarm on Monday: the Spanish Ministry of Industry is planning to take away 1 of the 2 multiplexes run by the Catalan Public Television Broadcaster (TVC), which means reducing its number of TV channels. By halving the spectrum available for TVC – which is traditionally the leader for TV audiences in Catalonia – the Spanish Government will oblige the broadcaster to reduce its number of channels. This will decrease its audience and therefore its influence, which might also bring a reduction of advertising income and a consequent weakening of the public service. The Catalan Government sees "an undoubted" political motivation in this decision, aiming to decrease the influence of Catalan-speaking media by rendering TVC "residual".

Catalan Government rejects comparison between Eastern Ukraine’s referendums and Catalonia’s

May 14, 2014 10:42 AM | ACN

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, compared the independence referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk with Catalonia’s self-determination process. The Spokesperson of the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, rejected the comparison and stated that García-Margallo “is making a mistake” since “he is putting Spain’s image in a place that should not interest him”. “In any case, Catalonia does not compare itself” with Eastern Ukraine, Homs added. On previous occasions he has drawn attention to the peaceful demands from Catalonia, which could fit into Spain’s constitutional framework if there was the political will. Besides, the Catalan Government issued a statement in which it did not recognize the legitimacy of Donetsk’s and Lugansk’s referendums but expressed its full support for the EU decisions.

South-African Archbishop Desmond Tutu awarded the prestigious Premi Internacional Catalunya

May 8, 2014 09:33 PM | ACN

Desmond Tutu, the South-African Archbishop who fought the Apartheid regime and won the Nobel Peace Prize, has been awarded the 26th Premi Internacional Catalunya. This is the most prestigious prize given by the Catalan Government and follows the decision of an independent jury formed of high-profile professionals from Catalonia and abroad. The jury has chosen Tutu from 162 other names from 51 different countries for "his vigorous and constant fight for social justice and the improvement of living conditions of those oppressed". Last year, the Premi Internacional Catalunya was awarded to the former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland and to the young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai for "their determination and courage in the defence of human rights". Other awardees have been Lula da Silva, Haruki Murakami, Jimmy Carter, Jacques Delors, Amartya Sen and Aung San Suu Kyi, among others.

Catalan Government's legal services: the Constitutional Court backs a consultation vote if it's "not a self-determination referendum"

April 1, 2014 08:29 PM | ACN

The legal services of the Catalan Government have issued a report analysing last week's Constitutional Court judgement on the Catalan Parliament's Declaration of Sovereignty. The Constitutional Court rejected the idea that Catalonia was a "sovereign political and legal entity", but at the same time it recognised that "Catalan citizens' right to decide" fits into the Constitution. The Court rejected "the right to self-determination" but it recognised self-determination as a legitimate and therefore constitutional "political aspiration". On top of this, the Court urged the political powers to talk and find agreements, and it pointed out that all the parts of the current Constitution can be reformed. As far as the Catalan Government is concerned, the Court is backing a vote to find out the opinion of Catalan citizens as long as it is only a consultation and not a binding self-determination referendum.

Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry report: independent Catalonia’s GDP would drop by 20%

March 13, 2014 09:06 PM | ACN

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry has drafted a new report on the consequences of an independent Catalonia, which predicts a 20% drop of the Catalan GDP. According to ‘El Periódico’ newspaper, the document - which will be sent to embassies throughout the world - foresees a fall in exports towards Europe and Spain, a decrease in foreign investments, a flight of talent, less tourism revenues because of the “lack of a common currency”, and a soar in Catalan debt which would reach 78.4% of the Catalan GDP since it would have to assume 18.9% of the Spanish Government's debt. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Government Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, said the report was merely “speculative”, adding that the Spanish Ministry was actually “campaigning” against self-determination. The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs has asked Catalan authorities to back such claims with “empirical evidence”.