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The Spanish Government’s disloyalty towards Catalonia cost €9.38 billion according to the Catalan Executive

The Catalan Government has published a report listing all the Spanish Executive’s disloyalties towards Catalonia including not respecting legislation, devolved powers and cultural aspects. The 50-page document has a chapter quantifying the costs of such disloyalty, which totals €9.375 billion, according to the Catalan Government. €5.748 billion correspond to infrastructure which has not been built; €672 million to a reduction in institutional transfers; €1.715 billion to spending increases due to the Spanish Government’s unilateral decisions; and €1.239 to revenue reductions due to similar unilateral decisions which have never been compensated. The report does not take into account the so-called fiscal deficit – the €16.5 billion that each year Catalan tax-payers transfer to the rest of Spain. The Catalan Government emphasised that there has been “a permanent disloyal activity” since 2000.

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15 October 2013 10:40 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday the Catalan Government published a report listing all the Spanish Executive’s disloyalties towards Catalonia including not respecting legislation, devolved powers and cultural aspects. With this report, the Catalan Government aims to put a comprehensive list of disloyal actions in black and white in order to make citizens aware of this. The 50-page document is divided into three chapters. The first one deals with language, education, culture, social protection and democratic values. The second one deals with devolved powers, self-government and Spanish institutions. Finally, the report has a chapter quantifying the costs of such disloyalty, which totals €9.375 billion, according to the Catalan Government. €5.748 billion correspond to the debt regarding infrastructure which has not been built; €672 million to a reduction in institutional transfers; €1.715 billion to spending increases due to the Spanish Government’s unilateral decisions; and €1.239 billion to revenue reductions due to similar unilateral decisions which have never been compensated. The report does not take into account the so-called fiscal deficit – the €16.5 billion that each year Catalan tax-payers transfer to the rest of Spain – since it is a different concept. The Catalan Government emphasised that there has been “a permanent disloyal activity” since 2000, when José María Aznar chaired the Spanish Executive.


“Institutional disloyalty” causes “an increase in inequality and discrimination”

The Spokesperson of the Catalan Government and Presidency Minister, Francesc Homs, presented the report in a press conference following Tuesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting. Homs highlighted that the Spanish Government’s disloyalty means that the constitutional principle of equality among all citizens has been violated. “Institutional disloyalty has the direct consequence for citizens of an increase in inequality and discrimination simply for the fact of where they live”, he stated. Homs said that they “are not crying out for the Catalan Government” by issuing this report, but that they are protesting on behalf of “an entire country” since “Catalan citizens are those suffering” from the Spanish Government’s attitude. Homs accused the Spanish Government of discriminating against Catalan citizens by not respecting the legislation, not honouring debts, adopting unilateral decisions that will harm Catalan finances and pursuing constant recentralisation attempts.

Homs asks the Spanish Government to respect legislation and the rule of law

In fact, Homs emphasised that there has been “a chronic series of disloyal activities” since 2000, when José María Aznar begun his second mandate holding an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament. This is when “an involution” started, when the Spanish Government started its attempts to take back power and to go against Catalan interests and culture.

“We would expect those who are talking so much about respecting the rule of law and the Constitution to respect legislation, starting with the firm sentences of the Constitutional Court”, he emphasised. Homs also challenged anyone “to contrast” the information included in the report and “present an alternative report” if they feel it does not reflect the reality.

The first chapter deals with aggression against basic rights in Catalonia

The protection and spread of Catalan language is one of the most iconic issues illustrating the alleged disloyalty. The report mentions that the Spanish Government has not taken any initiative to make the Catalan language present in any international organisation. In addition, its presence in Spanish institutions is almost non-existent, despite it being the official language in four Autonomous Communities, totalling 13 million people (roughly 25% of Spain’s total population).

The report mentions how the external promotion of Spain totally ignores the existence of other languages besides Spanish. Additionally, the Spanish Government has prioritised the spread of culture in Spanish and not in other languages such as Catalan. Furthermore, it has also promoted Madrid as a cultural centre, decreasing investments made in Barcelona, despite it being an historical flagship.

On top of this, the document recalls the attacks against the Catalan language, by going against the Catalan school model and the linguistic immersion principle, and by breaking the unity of the Catalan language (putting forward the name of Valencian for the Catalan spoken in Valencia, and Majorcan for the Catalan spoken in Majorca).

In addition, this chapter also includes the politicisation of the Constitutional Court and how it ruled against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy, which had previously been approved by the Spanish Parliament and by the Catalan people through a binding referendum.

Attacks against Catalonia's self-government

The second chapter deals with the constant invasion of powers, by ruling on issues exclusively managed by the Catalan Government, which really means that the Spanish Executive does not respect Catalonia’s self-government. The document emphasises the several recentralisation attempts in the last few years, using the economic crisis as an excuse.

In addition, the report regrets the recurrent paralysis of the bilateral commission between the two governments to deal with power and money transfers; a paralysis that is recurrent and can last many months (such as in the current moment) despite there being a formula totally recognised by the legislation. In this vein, the Catalan Government acknowledges that the Spanish Executive has put up obstructions and rejected negotiating or setting up the formulas to devolve powers following adopted legislation.

This chapter also analyses the manifold issues taken by the Spanish Government to the Constitutional Court as a way to go against legislation adopted in Catalonia. However, at the same time, the document highlights how the Spanish Government ignores the Constitutional Court’s sentences when they are against its own interests.

A debt of €9.375 billion

The third chapter of the document deals with the economic consequences of this “disloyalty”. The Catalan Government totals the cost of the series of disloyal acts and decisions at €9.375 billion. €5.748 billion correspond to infrastructure which has not been built, despite the Spanish Government being legally obliged to spend a minimum share of the public works budgeted throughout Spain in Catalonia over a seven-year period. The decision to invest a minimum percentage of the infrastructure budget in Catalonia was adopted by the Spanish Parliament in order to compensate for a recognised historical lack of such investment. However this legal obligation has never been respected.

In addition, the Spanish Government decided to reduce institutional transfers to the Catalan Government, and also to other institutions such as the cultural ones, by €672 million. In fact, the calculation takes into account the fact that Madrid-based museums and concert halls had their funds reduced by a much smaller proportion than the Catalan ones, whose transfers were reduced six times more.

Another amount is the €1.715 billion that the Catalan institutions had to additionally spend because of Spanish Government’s unilateral decisions. One of the unilateral decision is the VAT increase, which the Catalan Government pays when it pays bills to suppliers but it does not receive a share of the increased revenue. Finally, the last amount totals €1.239 billion that have been lost in revenue due to decisions adopted by the Spanish Government which were never compensated for. One of them is the Spanish Government’s decision to take the drug-prescription fee to the Constitutional Court and consequently make its implementation stop until a sentence is not issued.

The parties defending Spain’s unity strongly criticise the Catalan Government for the report

The three parties supporting Spain’s unity strongly criticised the Catalan Government for the report. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) – which supports organising a legal self-determination vote but would support the ‘no’ option – accuses the Catalan Executive of “crying”. In addition, the PSC – which is part of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) that ran the Spanish Government between 2004 and 2011 – regretted the fact that the report does not come “with solutions”. The PSC “doubts” if it will be “a useful tool to hold a calm debate” on Catalonia’s self-determination. The People’s Party (PP) – which currently runs the Spanish Government – accused the Catalan Executive of “opposing” the Spanish Government. The PP rejected assessing the report’s contents as it would be “falling into the trap”. They added that if it was not supported by Spain, an independent Catalonia “would not stand up by itself”. The anti-Catalan nationalism and Populist Party Ciutadans (C’s) accused the Catalan Government of “lying, because this list is a lie” and of “manipulating numbers in order to get a headline”.

However, the parties defending Catalonia’s independence have a totally different perception of the report. The Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) – which runs the Catalan Government – regretted the fact that Catalan citizens “have to suffer” the “payments in arrears of the Spanish Government”. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) emphasised that the Spanish Government has a “systemic disloyalty towards Catalonia”, which is bringing Catalan institutions to the point where they are “about to collapse”. According to the ERC, this can only be solved by totally changing the political framework and for this reason they ask the Catalan Government not only to complain about the disloyalty but to put in place a self-determination vote to get rid of the situation. To the radical independence and left-wing party CUP the report is “interesting” as it shows “the severe economic asphyxia” of Catalonia.

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  • The Catalan Government's Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, presenting the report (by P. Mateos)