Catalan Parliament rejects a “unilateral” self-determination referendum

November 7, 2013 10:02 PM | ACN

The Parliament of Catalonia rejected a proposal to call for a “unilateral” self-determination referendum in the event that the Spanish State “blocked” the possibility of organising a vote by agreement. The motion was rejected with the votes of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – which runs the Catalan Government – and the three parties defending the unity of Spain: the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), the People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government, and the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s). The motion supporting the idea of calling for a self-determination referendum in “a unilateral way” had been presented by the radical left-wing and independence party CUP, which has only 3 MPs in the 135-seat chamber. However it was also backed by the second-largest group, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) and some of the MPs from the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA).

Catalan Government’s budget for 2014 to have a 1% deficit, more social spending and further privatisations

November 5, 2013 11:40 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

The Catalan Government has presented its budget proposal for 2014, which posts a 1% deficit, representing a 35.5% annual reduction and amounting to €1.98 billion, in line with the 2014 deficit targets imposed by the Spanish Government. The budget prioritises healthcare, education and social policies, which represent 71% of the total non-financial spending. Non-financial spending grows by 0.2% and reaches €20.30 billion, while the total spending amounts to €29.31 billion. The Catalan Finance Minister stressed that spending had not been reduced this year since in the last 3 years it had already dropped by 22%. Budget cuts “have reached their limit”, as otherwise “social cohesion” and “the Welfare State” would “be at risk” he said. In 2014 the Catalan Executive will spend the same per inhabitant as it was doing in 2004 taking into account inflation (€1,901).The adjustment for 2014 focuses on increasing revenue by €3.2 billion, mostly through new taxes (€910 million) and the sales of assets and privatisations (€2.32 billion). On top of this, the Catalan Government forecasts a 0.9% economic growth for 2014, leaving behind the recession of 2012 (-1.2%) and 2013 (-1.1%).

Spain’s Prime Minister Rajoy rejects a constitutional change to fit Catalonia better within Spain

November 5, 2013 10:28 PM | ACN

The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, considered that “to reform the Constitution in order to satisfy those who will not be satisfied”, referring to the citizens supporting Catalonia’s independence from Spain, who represent more than 50% of Catalans according to polls, would be “a great mistake”. Answering a question from the former Catalan President José Montilla, Rajoy stated before the Senate that “Spain and national sovereignty are not negotiable”. However, despite these red lines, Rajoy affirmed that his attitude towards Catalonia is “to talk” in order to find a negotiated way out. More than 80% of Catalans would like to hold a self-determination vote in Catalonia.

Schulz emphasises that independence should not be the issue of next European elections in Catalonia

October 31, 2013 09:57 PM | ACN

The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, visited Barcelona on Thursday and met with the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, and the Secretary General of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Pere Navarro. Schulz, who is the Social-Democrat candidate in the next European Elections for the President of the European Commission, acknowledged that he talked about Catalonia’s self-determination process with Mas and Navarro. However, the German politician refused to take sides, saying he has “no solution” to offer and that “the problem” has to be solved between Catalonia and Spain, not at European level. Furthermore, he insisted that Catalonia’s independence should not be the issue in the next European elections. “I want to talk about youth unemployment”, he stressed.

Madrid admits incipient talks with Catalonia on the self-determination issue but rejects allowing a vote

October 31, 2013 09:13 PM | ACN

The Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría made it clear that “members of the Spanish Government” and “members of the Generalitat [Catalan Government]” have been holding meetings in the past few weeks, including the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. “We inform about some of them and about others we do not, out of consideration for the delicate subject”, she stated. Sáenz de Santamaría insisted that talks were just starting; “we are in an incipient phase”, she stressed, “to acknowledge that channels for negotiation have to be found”. However, she totally rejected the main demand from a broad majority of Catalan society, for allowing a self-determination vote to take place in Catalonia. The Deputy PM did not want to disclose any part of the Spanish Government’s strategy on how to handle the issue. However, she praised the figure of the ‘number 2’ of the Centre Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida.

Chairman of the European Social-Democrats: Catalonia “cannot create new conflicts” and “expect everybody to accept them within the EU”

October 30, 2013 03:53 PM | ACN

Hannes Swoboda, Chairman of the Social-Democrat Group at the European Parliament, highlighted “the necessity to stick together, to solve the problems together in Spain”. The Austrian politician rejected what he sees as the Catalan attitude: “we are richer and we are leaving Spain”. “That is not a solution for the Spanish and European problems” he warned. In addition, he stated that Catalans “have to know” that “if they go independent without the agreement of the national government they are no longer in the European Union”. The veteran MEP asked Catalans to be “realistic” and “to fight for the improvement of living conditions and not for the destruction of what we have achieved over the last decades”.

The Catalan Executive expects the Spanish establishment to make an offer regarding Catalonia’s self-government

October 29, 2013 09:52 PM | ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

In the last few days, there has been an attempt to build bridges between Catalonia and Spain, despite the visible increase of tension between the two governments. In public the Catalan and Spanish Executives are heading for a collision but at the same time discreet manoeuvres explore alternative ways out. This Tuesday, the ‘number 2’ of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – which runs the Catalan Government – Josep Antoni Duran I Lleida acknowledged that he met with the Spanish Prime Minister and leader of the People’s Party (PP) Mariano Rajoy on the 16th October. Besides, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, met on Friday with the Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) to talk about a constitutional change. Today, the Spokesperson of the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, stated that Catalonia is waiting for an offer from the Spanish establishment. Although “there is no deadline” for this offer, the self-determination process will not be waiting for it, although if it arrives it will be studied.

Catalan demands of a referendum and the EU role, centre of debate at the UCL

October 26, 2013 01:33 PM | ACN

The University College London and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia conference on “Self-Determination Processes in the EU” was attended by more than 100 people. Scholars and public figures discussed the Catalan and the Scottish cases in relation to the EU. Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Oxford Professor Graham Avery stated that the EU “should not get in the way of the people in deciding their future” but he admitted the situation in Catalonia was “less clear” than in Scotland. Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh David Edward said it all depended on Madrid’s decision to accept or to reject the outcome of a referendum.

The Spanish socialists offer a constitutional reform to Mas but reject a referendum on independence

October 26, 2013 01:12 PM | ACN

At a meeting with Catalan President Artur Mas, the Spanish socialist party (PSOE) leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba offered support for constitutional reform in Spain, but rejected the idea of a referendum on independence. Mas said that the legal framework cannot be used to “abort” the plans for an independence referendum. He added that it is an “enormous” mistake to think that. Rubalcaba said that the constitutional reform offer is an alternative “to a vote for separation”.

Former UK Secretary of State for Scotland: “Were Catalonia to become an independent country, the world would recognise it”

October 23, 2013 10:11 PM | ACN / Laura Pous / Manel Sales

In an interview with CNA, former United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore explained he saw no reason why the European Union would exclude any new state. However, David Cameron’s Minister highlighted that “it is for states and parts of states to resolve themselves politically and then the international community to respond to that decision”. The Liberal-Democrat politician added that it “is fundamental” to “recognise that this is a decision for the people in that country itself”. Moore asserted his belief in International Politics and in Democracy by referring to the upcoming Scottish Referendum for Independence.

The Catalan President welcomes the Euro-Med Forum participants but protests against the Spanish Government’s veto

October 23, 2013 08:38 PM | ACN

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, shook hands at the entrance of the Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean. Mas wanted to welcome all the event’s participants since the forum is held in a Catalan Government building and is co-organised by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), which is mostly funded by the Catalan Executive. However, in protest against the Spanish Government’s veto to authorise him to deliver a short welcoming speech, Mas did not stay to listen to Rajoy’s opening speech. Later today, in the Catalan Parliament’s government control session, Mas stated that “there are no protocol problems, but protocol impositions that generate problems”.

The Spanish Government vetoes the Catalan President in a Euro-Mediterranean forum in Barcelona

October 22, 2013 09:10 PM | ACN

The tension between the Spanish and the Catalan Executives is increasing. The Spanish Government refused to allow the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, to deliver a short welcoming speech to the participants of the First Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean. This event will take place in Barcelona on Wednesday, within the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat (UFM), a building owned by the Catalan Government. It will bring together 10 Ministers of Foreign Affairs and it will be part of the 5+5 Dialogue, which is formed by 5 EU Member States and 5 North African countries. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, will chair the meeting and he only allowed Mas to come as a part of his delegation, Mas will be permitted to join the meeting but not to speak. In similar meetings, presidents of other Spanish Autonomous Communities, including Catalonia, have been allowed to address participants.

European Liberals’ leader: “I would not have any problem with a self-governing Catalonia within the EU”

October 22, 2013 02:44 PM | ACN

Graham Watson, one of the leaders of Liberal Group at the European Parliament emphasised that “the EU has to be a sufficiently strong but sufficiently flexible entity to allow people to express themselves within it”. This “may mean some changes to boundaries; but we are democrats and if that is what the majority wants then that is what must happen” added the leader of the third largest group at the Strasbourg Parliament. According to Watson, the debate about Catalonia or Scotland’s possible independence “is a very important issue for the European Union”. The British politician sent a clear message to Spain: “This is not a period of kings and nation-states, it’s a period of people working together through their democratically-expressed will and that should be as clear to a Castilian as to anyone else”.

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.

The ‘father of the Constitution’ Miquel Roca states that the text does not ban a self-determination referendum

October 15, 2013 11:24 PM | ACN

One of the six ‘fathers’ of the Spanish Constitution, Miquel Roca, who currently leads one of the largest law firms in Spain, stated that the Constitution does not ban a referendum on Catalonia’s self-determination. “It is a matter of political will”, since Catalonia is recognised “as a nationality” by Spain’s main law, stated the respected lawyer, who also used to be a leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU). In front of a committee of the Catalan Parliament, Roca remarked that it would be “absurd” to call for a referendum at Spanish level, as it would only be binding in Catalonia. In the rest of Spain it would not be binding, emphasised Roca, as “it is said in Article 92”. This article reads that non-binding referendums can be called regarding issues of extreme importance.