You are in:

Share on Facebook: opens new windowShare on Twitter: opens new window

Council of Ministers

Government agrees to appeal against Transience Act of Catalonia before Constitutional Court

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 8 September 2017
Íñigo Méndez de Vigo
Pool Moncloa / JM Cuadrado

The government also decided to appeal against certain rules contained in the Tax Code Law of Catalonia that seeks to set up its own Treasury. Furthermore, it approved the Strategy to Internationalise the Spanish Economy 2017-2027 and the Comprehensive Plan to Boost the Competitiveness of Retail Trade.

​The Council of Ministers agreed to ask the President of the Government to lodge an appeal against the unconstitutional nature of the Law on Legal and Foundational Transience of the Republic, passed by the Regional Government of Catalonia on 8 September 2017, expressly invoking Article 161.2 of the Spanish Constitution, to suspend this law.

The Minister for Education, Culture and Sport and Government Spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, indicated that the law, approved on Friday morning by the Regional Parliament of Catalonia, "means the total and utter breakdown of the established constitutional order".

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo declared that the government is surprised that the Transience Act, which "seeks to be the supreme law of the Catalan legal system until the Constitution of the Catalan Republic is approved" does not contain the right to decide, which was the goal of the campaign of the pro-independence forces.

Appeal of the Tax Code Law of Catalonia

The Council of Ministers also agreed to ask the President of the Government to lodge an appeal against the constitutional nature of Article 5 of the Tax Code Act of Catalonia, approved by the Regional Government of Catalonia on 1 August, and against the approval of the first, second and third chapters relating to the tax authorities of the Regional Government of Catalonia.

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoThe law challenged is one of the laws under the so-called "process to break Catalonia away" from the Spanish State, and seeks "to push through the creation of a Catalan tax office and turn this into its own Treasury", explained Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.

The minister pointed out that, by lodging this appeal, the government is providing "a swift and effective response" to the attempts to violate the constitutional order, given that this law "seeks to violate the exclusive powers of the Spanish State to guarantee the equality of all Spanish people".

Challenge to the Constitution and Statute of Autonomy

The minister stressed that the parliamentary sittings on Wednesday and Thursday in the Regional Parliament of Catalonia bear witness to "unprecedented and anti-democratic" actions by the Speaker of the House, who only acted to the benefit of the regional MPs that advocated a pro-independence stance. In his opinion, they have clearly displayed the climate of political-institutional decomposition in which Catalonia is immersed, where "a scant parliamentary majority" wishes to impose "an exclusionary project on the whole of Catalan society" in violation of all the rules of a democracy.

According to Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, "we are at a flashpoint, faced with a strategy to challenge democracy, the rule of law, the Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy".

Government line of action

The Government Spokesperson reiterated that the government has acted in defence of the rights and liberties of all the people of Catalonia. The democratic system, he said, is entitled to and indeed must defend itself from those who attack it. "Defending the law, democracy and institutions forms part of this pact of co-existence that the Spanish people enshrined in our Constitution".

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoÍñigo Méndez de Vigo added that, even at the most tense and irrational moments, the government has always acted with moderation and proportionality, but also firmly and with determination, "with the aim of limiting the damage, and not contributing to fuelling a climate of confrontation or division".

The minister stressed that "a constitutional and democratic government is not going to stand by and watch those who wish to eliminate the principle of national sovereignty". And he reiterated that "there will be no referendum because no-one can deprive the Spanish people from deciding on their future on something that belongs to them".

In this regard, he recalled the words of the President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, who stated on Thursday that he will do "everything necessary, without renouncing anything, to avoid this".

Political and judicial support

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo thanked the PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers' Party] and Ciudadanos for the support they are providing the government in terms of adopting the legal measures necessary to defend the Constitution and democracy. He also called on "all parties with ambition and a national commitment" to support the government. "This is the time for national unity and to defend what belongs to all the people of Spain. Should we have been in opposition, we would have done the same".

The minister also thanked international leaders for their support and remarked that the European judicial authorities have made the legal position clear.

On this point, he recalled that the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, resorted to the Venice Commission, which is the consultation body of the Council of Europe on constitutional maters, and the latter was "very clear" in its indications in the letter it sent to him that referendums cannot be held if the Constitution does not allow this.

Internationalisation of the economy and retail trade

The Council of Ministers approved the Internationalisation Strategy of the Spanish Economy 2017-2027 and its first Two-Year Action Plan (2017-2018).

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoThe Government Spokesperson underlined the contribution from exports, which in 2016 hit an all-time high, to the recovery of the Spanish economy. The aim of this medium- and long-term strategy is precisely to ensure that this positive contribution from the foreign trade sector to growth "becomes structural and leads to job creation". With this goal in mind, six lines of action have been established, together with specific measures to support exporters and attract investors to Spain.

Also at an economic level, the government approved the Comprehensive Plan to Boost the Competitiveness of Retail Trade 2017. The aim, according to Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, is "to help traditional trade to adapt to new purchasing environments, to employ digital platforms and to operate online to provide a response to new consumer purchasing habits".

The Government Spokesperson pointed out that the economic crisis was very harsh on this sector, which represents around 5% of GDP and provides jobs for almost two million people in Spain. Since 2013, the government has pushed through successive plans to boost the competitiveness of retail trade, which has benefitted more than 300,000 businesses. The approval of this new plan continues with this work and seeks to support the renewal of companies, committing to a combination of physical shops with online strategies, declared Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.

Social affairs

The government authorised the contracting of the comprehensive monitoring service through electronic means of compliance with restraining orders for gender-based violence. The contract exceeds the sum of 27 million euros over six years (with a duration of three years that may be extended until a maximum of six years).

The Government Spokesperson highlighted that this will guarantee the continuity and improvement of this service, which is provided for in the Comprehensive Law on Gender-Based Violence.

The Council of Ministers also approved the transfer of 9.5 million euros to the regional governments to develop programmes to fight drug use as part of the National Drug Plan for this year.

Current affairs

Íñigo Méndez de VigoPool Moncloa / JM CuadradoWhen asked about the order sent by the General State's Attorney to the Mossos d'Esquadra [Regional Police Force of Catalonia] to prevent the referendum being held on 1 October, the Government Spokesperson recalled that this body is the "regional police force of Catalonia, and hence, of all the people of Catalonia, rather than merely the police force of the pro-independence parties".

The government, he added, "is absolutely convinced that the Mossos d'Esquadra will uphold the law and obey the General State's Attorney, as will all public servants".

Non official translation