Catalan Police Mossos d’Esquadra to have an Ethic Committee

February 13, 2014 07:25 PM | ACN

The Catalan Ministry of Home Affairs has constituted an Ethics Committee for the Catalan Police Force, called Mossos d’Esquadra. It will be chaired by Francesc Torralba, Director of Applied Ethics at Barcelona’s Ramon Llull University. The Ethics Committee was firstly created by the former Left-Wing Cabinet, when the Home Affairs Ministry was run by a Green Socialist (ICV-EUiA). However, it was suppressed in 2011 by his successor from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). Now, following recent scandals, such as the death of an arrestee, it has been restored. The Ethics Committee is made of ten members who have a non-renewable term of four years: five representatives of the police and home security are joined by five independent university professors in the field of law, ethics and sociology. Their first assignment will be drafting the Catalan Police’s new Code of Ethics.

Catalan parties welcome Rajoy’s rectification in publishing fiscal balances after all

February 5, 2014 09:48 PM | ACN

After a great controversy and outraged reaction from businesspeople, politicians and academics, the Spanish Government has amended its previous decision and on Tuesday evening it announced that it will publish the so-called fiscal balances. This financial instrument shows how much money the citizens and companies from a territory give to the central government and how much of this money comes back in form of funds, investments and services. Previous studies showed that Catalonia has been giving away an average of 8% of its GDP each year since 1986, which represents 6 times the entire Marshall Plan in comparable currencies. The Spanish Government was supposed to publish the fiscal balances in December but a month later it announced it would not do so since they were “used to foster Catalonia’s independence” claims. Catalan parties warned Rajoy not to alter the figures and calculation to produce the result he wishes.

Catalan parties file another bill to guarantee an early self-determination debate in Madrid

February 4, 2014 03:18 PM | ACN

Three parties, which between them represent 63% of the Catalan Parliament, registered a second bill, identical to the motion approved two weeks ago, in order to ensure that the Spanish Parliament will discuss it before the summer. January’s motion and this latest bill both ask the Spanish Parliament to transfer the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Government. The parties are using their MPs in Spain’s Lower Chamber to file their own bill and put it earlier in the plenary’s planning. As Spanish Parliament groups they are entitled to register a certain number of bills to be debated within the next two or three months. Otherwise, there was a risk that the Catalan Parliament’s motion would have to wait 9 months to be debated.

The Catalan Government’s budget for 2014 is finally approved

January 22, 2014 09:36 PM | ACN

All the opposition parties except the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), which shares a parliamentary stability agreement with the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), have criticised the Catalan Government’s budget for 2014 – which amounts to €29.31 billion – for being “anti-social”. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government, the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA), the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C’s) and the radical left-wing and independence party CUP all opposed the budget proposal. The CiU and ERC defended the bill and have accused the other parties of “not presenting real alternatives”. The budget’s approval was delayed by a month after the PP appealed against the bill because it includes €5 million for a consultation vote.

Spanish Parliament to debate Catalonia’s bill requesting the transfer of referendum powers

January 21, 2014 04:50 PM | ACN

The Bureau of the Spanish Parliament has accepted a debate on the Catalan Parliament’s bill requesting the transfer to the Catalan Executive of the powers to organise referendums, using Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution. The Bureau, totally controlled by the People’s Party (PP), has not discussed the contents and has only approved requesting the Catalan Parliament to send the bill’s full dossier, the step before putting the bill on the agenda. The motion would be debated in September, although there is a chance it could be rescheduled for June. However, Catalan parties will register an identical bill at the Spanish Parliament to discuss it even earlier, probably in March. The bill was approved by the Catalan Parliament with 87 ‘yes’ votes, 43 ‘no’ votes and 3 abstentions that considered the request was slowing down self-determination.

Catalonia requests the Spanish Parliament to transfer powers to organise referendums

January 16, 2014 06:50 PM | ACN

The Catalan Parliament has approved a resolution to formally request the Spanish Parliament to transfer the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Government, following Article 150.2 of the Constitution. This mechanism will allow the Catalan Executive to directly call a self-determination referendum, a similar formula to the Scotland case. 87 MPs (64.4% of the Parliament) have backed the proposal and 43 MPs (31.8%) have voted against it. The 3 MPs of the radical left-wing and independence party CUP have abstained, arguing they do not think Spain has anything to say on Catalonia’s self-determination. Furthermore, 3 MPs from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) have also backed the text, breaking the party leadership’s instructions. This vote is a true earthquake for the PSC, which might eventually split up.

Financial Times demands “a negotiated solution” for Catalonia’s independence claims

December 16, 2013 04:53 PM | ACN

Following the announcement of a self-determination vote question and date, the Financial Times urges the Spanish establishment to negotiate. The prestigious and influential newspaper stated that the Catalan claims for independence are “a political problem that requires a negotiated solution”. In this Monday printed edition’s editorial, the FT demanded more “federalism within Spain’s crying need for institutional renewal”, convinced that in the two-part self-determination question proposed by Catalan parties “lie the ingredients for a solution”. “It is not just the Catalans but Spain’s leading parties, Mr Rajoy’s PP and the Socialists, that need to rise to the occasion” urged the Financial Times, while also acknowledging that Spain has failed to build “a plurinational home comfortable enough for its culturally distinct peoples”.

The Spanish Government “will not allow” and “will not negotiate” on Catalonia’s self-determination vote

December 12, 2013 10:08 PM | ACN

“I want to tell you with all clarity that this consultation will not take place”, emphasised the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. “It goes radically against the Constitution and the law” and “it frontally clashes against the indissoluble unity of Spain”, he insisted. The “unity of Spain and the sovereignty belonging to the Spanish people as a whole are not debatable and are out of any negotiation”, he added. Therefore, the Spanish Government, run by People’s Party (PP), completely rejects authorising a self-determination vote in Catalonia, whose exact question and date had been agreed on this Thursday amongst a majority of Catalan parties. The parties had decided to hold the vote on November 9, 2014 in order for the Spanish institutions to have time to negotiate the procedures. Meanwhile, the main civil society organisations pushing for Catalonia’s independence announced they were accepting the question.

Parties supporting the self-determination vote explain the agreement reached

December 12, 2013 07:46 PM | ACN

The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), led by Mas and running the Catalan Government, emphasised that “today we are writing history”. In addition, the Christian-Democrat force within the two-party coalition CiU, UDC, highlighted that having an “inclusive and clear” question was possible. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) recognised it was not their preferred question but it is now theirs it directly asks about independence. The Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA) pointed out that the question also suits those defending a Catalan State within a federal Spain. The radical left-wing and independence party CUP accepts the question in order to have the widest possible pact. The parties appeared together before the press to present the pact and answer questions, joined by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who announced the question and date.

Catalonia agrees on its independence question to be voted on November 9, 2014

December 12, 2013 03:37 PM | ACN

“Do you want Catalonia to become a state? If yes, do you want this state to be independent?” This is the “inclusive” and “clear” question that the parties supporting Catalonia’s self-determination vote have agreed on this Thursday. The parties also agreed on holding the vote on November 9, 2014, “giving the Spanish institutions time to negotiate with the Catalan institutions within the legal frameworks, which are numerous”. The agreement was explained by the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, in a solemn appearance, joined by the leaders of the parliamentary groups supporting the vote. The question is “a compromise”, as “it allows voting for a change of the status quo” and “also allows voting on independence”. It is backed by 4 parliamentary groups, representing 64.5% of the Catalan Parliament’s seats.

Trial of two Franco torturers is closer thanks to MEP letter

December 10, 2013 02:34 PM | ACN / Emma Garzi

The Spanish Minister for Justice allowed the legal procedure regarding the extradition to Argentina of two Franco torturers to continue. This decision occurred after a letter written by a group of MEPs, led by Catalan and Spanish representatives, had asked the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for the two men’s extradition. In their letter, the MEPs urged Spain to stop “hampering the progress of the Argentine justice”, which is currently investigating Franco crimes. Indeed a first unsuccessful request for the two men’s extradition had been made in 2010. Spanish High Court Judge Pablo Ruz is in charge of making the next move. For now, he has interrogated the two alleged torturers and confiscated their passports as a precautionary measure. However, there still are many steps to go before the extradition. In their letter to Rajoy, the MEPs had also demanded the repeal of the 1977 Spanish Amnesty Law which is used to prohibit Franco criminals from being prosecuted.

Catalan President foresees a “clear” self-determination question backed by “a wide majority”

December 4, 2013 08:26 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, said that he is “convinced” that parties will be able to agree on a “clear” question for the self-determination vote. Before the Catalan Parliament, Mas added he believes the question’s formulation will be supported by “a wide majority” of parties. He highlighted the need for a clear question, as in Scotland’s referendum, in order not to “allow different interpretations on the following day”.  Mas pledged the parties to reach a wide consensus on the exact question, date and legal way to organise the self-determination vote, because “a part of Catalonia’s strength lies here”. Parties supporting the organisation of such a vote have publicly stated they were committed to reach an agreement before the end of the year. Mas ratified this announcement last week.

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.

Demonstration in Barcelona against austerity and “antisocial” policies

November 25, 2013 05:37 PM | ACN

Thousands of people – 12,000 according to Barcelona’s local police and 200,000 according to the organisers – demonstrated on Sunday in the streets of Barcelona to protest against the Spanish and Catalan Governments’ austerity measures and “antisocial” budgets. Led by the platform ‘Prou Retallades’ (“Stop Budget Cuts”) , the UGT and CCOO trade-unions, as well as political parties and associations, citizens voiced their disapproval of the new pension reform, working fragility and the latest austerity measures. They also specifically protested against the Catalan and Spanish Governments’ budgets for 2014, which they consider “antisocial”. The demonstration organisers criticised the “blind obedience” of the Catalan and Spanish Executives to the European Commission and the Troika.

Aznar demands jail-time for anyone organising an illegal self-determination vote

November 20, 2013 08:50 PM | ACN

In a clear reference to the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, the former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar – who chairs the governing People’s Party (PP) think tank – asked for the approval of a former law sentencing any public figure organising a referendum that has previously been declared illegal to a 5-year incarceration. Aznar, who led the Spanish Government between 1996 and 2004, is a strong supporter of Spanish nationalist stances and has requested PM Mariano Rajoy to take a harder approach regarding Catalonia’s self-determination claims. The PP replied Aznar that currently there are “enough mechanisms” “guaranteeing” that an illegal vote will not take place. The Catalan President criticised Aznar’s “old-fashioned language”.