Catalonia has proposed solutions, but Spain does not want to discuss them

08.05.2013

Source: Diplocat

Estelada_PlacaSantJaumeFrom a Catalan perspective, devolution has been a story of difficult negotiations and broken promises. However, that has not stopped them from trying to reach agreements.

In 2006, Catalonia proposed solutions to improve the quality of devolution. A new “Statute of Autonomy” would define clearly who does what and with what resources, thus ending the constant disputes between Central Government and regions. The Catalan proposal was approved by 89% of the MPs in its Parliament but it was met with anger and hostility in the rest of Spain. The Spanish Prime Minister at the time, Mr Zapatero, went back on his promise of supporting the proposal without changes; and Mr Rajoy, the current Spanish Prime Minister, helped collecting signatures in the street for a petition against it. Boycotts of Catalan-made goods were organized; bishops took sides; and a senior army commander was arrested for recommending a military intervention.

Following difficult negotiations, a much more modest reform was approved by the Spanish Parliament, and – despite mixed feelings – this was approved in a Catalan referedum. But then Mr Rajoy’s party presented a challenge in the Constitutional Court. Four years later, the Court annulled key parts of the law and effectively threw devolution into reverse. Parts of the law which remain, such as the rules on the fair distribution resources within Spain, are simply ignored by Central Government.

Despite these set-backs, a further attempt to negotiate was made in 2012, when the Catalan Parliament proposed a new tax system, the “Fiscal Pact”. This would have given Catalonia an autonomous tax system similar to those which already exist in other Autonomous Communities. Although 80% of the MPs in the Catalan Parliament voted for key parts of the proposal, the Spanish Government refused to discuss the matter.

Some Catalan politicians still wish to continue negotiations, the aim now being to turn Spain into a federal state. But the Spanish Government has already said that this is unacceptable; and many Catalans now believe that it is not possible to negotiate with Spain, because Spain does not want to negotiate.