Der Spiegel – A ‘No’ To Spain, But a ‘Yes’ to Europe
In Spain, it is the regions where industrial production is concentrated that no longer want to see their fates tied to the central government. The Basque Country has the highest per-capita income of all of Spain’s regions, and the Catalans are net contributors to the national budget.
Under the constitution in place since the end of the Franco dictatorship, Spain is organized as a nation of so-called autonomous communities. While each of these 17 regions has the right of self-administration, the nation is defined as an “indissoluble unit.” The central government in Madrid collects most taxes and returns funds to the regional governments. In times of crisis, these funds decline. But the regions need the money to pay for the growing costs of schools, universities, medical care, police and the judiciary. Only the Basque Country and Navarre have retained the historic right to manage all of the taxes they collect autonomously.
When Catalan President Mas took office two years ago, he was determined to wrest a similar taxing authority from Madrid. Last week, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the presidents of the other regions put an end to his ambitions. Without tax revenues from Catalonia, Spain would lose its position as the fourth-largest economic power in the European Union. Rajoy argues that it’s important to display unity to the markets.
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