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Council of Ministers

Government studies reform of access to and exercise of professions of lawyer and court attorney

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 19 January 2018

Pool Moncloa/J.M. CuadradoThe Minister for Justice, Rafael Catalá, presented the Council of Ministers with a report on the draft bill to reform conditions of access to and exercise of the professions of lawyer and court attorney.

The draft bill will allow lawyers and court attorneys to be members of the same law firm, whilst maintaining the incompatibility of the simultaneous exercise of these professions. It will also move towards a new system for access and clarify the fee system for court attorneys.

The Minister for Education, Culture and Sport and Government Spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, explained that this new legislation responds to the considerations drawn up by the European Commission on the Spanish model of lawyers and court attorneys. The text will now be subject to a public information period and reports from various ministerial departments. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo pointed out that this could become a draft law and submitted to Parliament within a time frame of two to three months.

270 million euros for Maritime Rescue

The Council of Ministers authorised a contract for the provision of the air service of the Maritime Rescue and Safety Society, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Public Works to be entered into for the sum of 270 million euros, over a period of four years.

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo explained that the contract seeks to maintain and modernise an air service comprising three aircraft and 11 helicopters provided by Maritime Rescue 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, for any emergency that may take place off the 7,880 kilometres of Spanish coastline.

Agreement between EU and Australia

The government agreed to submit to Parliament the Framework Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Australia, on the other hand.

The Government Spokesperson pointed out that this is an agreement of a political nature that seeks to create a framework for association and cooperation for relations between the EU, its Member States and Australia, in a broad range of sectors. "This is not precisely a trade agreement, but it undoubtedly constitutes the first step towards a possible free trade agreement between the EU and Australia, for which negotiations could start soon, along the lines of those entered into with Canada and Japan, and that being negotiated with MERCOSUR, of which Spain is a firm backer", stressed Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.

Support for family mediation

Pool Moncloa/ J.M. CuadradoThe government approved an Institutional Declaration on the occasion of European Mediation Day to be held on 21 January. The government thus shows its commitment to family mediation and its use as a way to resolve conflicts in civil and mercantile jurisdictions, with maximum guarantees and legal certainty.

The Minister for Education, Culture and Sport recalled that on 21 January 1998, the Council of Europe approved a resolution that gave "a major boost" to the use of mechanisms to resolve out-of-court conflicts.

"Many citizens are unaware that this possibility exists, consisting of resorting to mediation to reach an amicable agreement instead of going to court. This culture of mediation is very important in our democratic societies", he stated.

Register of Universities, Education Centres and Degrees

The government officially approved 64 university Bachelor's Degrees, 115 Master's Degrees and 11 Doctorates.

Accordingly, the Register of Universities, Education Centres and Degrees now boasts a total of 2,935 Bachelor's Degrees, 5,078 Master's Degrees and 2,854 Doctorates.

Application of Article 155

In addition to its ordinary meeting, the Council of Ministers also held another meeting to adopt measures relating to the application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in Catalonia, pursuant to the agreement reached at the Plenary Session of the Upper House of Parliament on 27 October 2017.

Among these decisions is the authorisation of the Ecological Research and Forest Application Centre Consortium to formalise two short-term debt operations in order to attend to its temporary cash needs.

Confidence in Spain

Pool Moncloa/ J.M. CuadradoIn his political assessment of the week, the Government Spokesperson highlighted the news of the transfer to Spain, as a result of Brexit, of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre, the European satellite navigation system. In his opinion, this is proof of the "enhanced international credibility of our country", as a result of having "a serious and responsible government in power since 2011 that meets its international commitments" and also to the fact that "In the wake of some tough years, Spain is growing faster than the EU average".

Íñigo Méndez de Vigo underlined the fall in the risk premium to around 90 basis points and the placement of 4,165 billion euros in six- and 12-month Treasury Bills, which reflects that "investors continue to believe in Spain". He also reviewed the latest positive figures on Spanish tourism, a reflection of its ability to adapt and of the quality of its professionals, in addition to the wealth of Spanish cultural heritage.

The minister referred to the Spanish language as one of these cultural values and announced that the President of the Government will present a project next Wednesday to boost Spanish as a global language and the language of communication, technology and science.

Importance of General State Budget

Pool Moncloa/ J.M.CuadradoAccording to the Minister for Education, Culture and Sport, the approval of the General State Budget for 2018 would contribute to ensuring that economic growth translates into improved basic public services. Íñigo Méndez de Vigo pointed out that this Budget provides for such measures as a wage rise for public servants, a lower VAT rate on cultural activities, the gradual assimilation of the State and regional law enforcement agencies and increased financing for regional governments and local authorities.

Precisely on the issue of this financing, he said that this is a pending reform on which the government has worked tirelessly, which requires the agreement of the political groups. He also recalled that, at any event, regional financing has risen from 84 billion euros when Mariano Rajoy came to power to the 104 billion euros scheduled for the year 2018.

Response to secessionist challenge

In his speech at the press briefing following the Council of Ministers, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo also reviewed "how the government has headed up the State's constitutional response to the secessionist challenge in the general interest".

The Government Spokesperson reiterated that those responsible for the decisions adopted outside of the law "will answer to the courts" and the constitution of the Regional Parliament of Catalonia and the investiture of the President of the Regional Government of Catalonia must adhere to the framework of the Spanish Constitution and the Regulation of the Regional Parliament of Catalonia.

In response to questions from the press on the government's potential approach to the remote investiture of Carles Puigdemont as President of the Regional Government of Catalonia, the minister reiterated that "the government will continue to strictly respect the law", "and will not allow any irregularities in this process", and that "the law must be obeyed and upheld".

Current affairs

Pool Moncloa/ J.M. CuadradoAs regards the future nationalisation of the State motorways, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo said that this is not a bailout but the "reversion" of these structures to their owner - the State - and that what is important to the government is maintaining safety and "guaranteeing a good service".

The Minister for Education, Culture and Sport announced that the President of the Government will hold a round of contacts with the parliamentary groups to determine a date, presumably before spring, to hold a debate on the state of the nation, and pointed out that the President of the Government will "gladly" attend this parliamentary event because it will afford him the opportunity to explain the government's actions to the people.

Non official translation