WHAT HAS BEEN DONE
The Council of Ministers, in its meeting recently, has decided to consider that the formal request sent to the President of the Generalitat of Catalonia (the regional government of Catalonia), in application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, has not been met. The President of the Generalitat has neither clarified whether the independence of Catalonia has been declared, nor has he accepted to put an end to his actions against the legality established in the Spanish Constitution and in Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy.
Therefore, the Council of Ministers has also decided to move forward with this procedure and propose to the Senate that a series of measures be adopted to guarantee compliance with constitutional obligations and the protection of the general interest.
HOW IT HAS BEEN DONE
Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution is thereby applied. Constitutional jurisprudence has established this Article as a State guarantee, for the exceptional control of Autonomous Communities, in defence of the aforementioned general interest.
o It is an extraordinary procedure, but not one that is exclusive to our country, as it is common in composite States, such as Germany, Austria, Italy and Portugal.
o Neither is it a completely new procedure, because it was activated in 1989 to request an Autonomous Community to comply with its tax obligations; however, on that occasion the request was complied with and there was no need to adopt any additional measures.
WHY IT HAS BEEN DONE
The Article sets forth a possible two-fold scenario for its application: in the event that an Autonomous Community does not comply with its constitutional and legal obligations, and in the event that it severely harms the general interests of Spain.
In the case of Catalonia, both scenarios have occurred. Catalonia’s leaders have not respected the legality underpinning our democracy, nor the general interests to which our laws respond.
o On the one hand, there has been reiterated disregard by Catalonian regional authorities of the constitutional and statutory order, and even of democratic rules, in their attempt to carry out their purported “pro-sovereignty process”.
o On the other, this drift into pro-independence and the illegalities through which it has been expressed have had a grave impact on the political, economic, and social life of Catalonia, leading to a severe deterioration of the foundations of coexistence, social well-being and economic growth, and causing increasing levels of uncertainty and distrust.
It is necessary to respond, with a set of measures, to the grievous actions of the leaders of Catalonia. The measures will be proportional to the actions undertaken within the “secessionist process”, and will be temporary, limited to a specific timeframe. They will also be gradual, as the intention is for them to be adapted to the aforementioned situation.
The goal of these measures, in any case, is to ensure that self-government operates in accordance with the principles and rules it is charged with respecting, set forth in the Spanish Constitution and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia— the instruments that in fact gave shape to Catalonia’s self-government. To preserve this self-government is to protect Catalonia’s autonomy.
In short, these measures aim to protect rights without restricting freedoms, with four key goals: restoring constitutional and statutory legality, ensuring institutional neutrality, maintaining public services and economic growth, and defending the rights and freedoms of all of the people of Catalonia.
WHAT IS PROPOSED
The following key measures are, therefore, being submitted to the Spanish Senate for approval:
o Authorizing the Spanish Government to remove the President of the Generalitat from office, along with the Vice-President and the Consellers (regional ministers).
o Replacing these office-bearers, whose duties will be assumed by the bodies and authorities appointed or created by the Government of Spain for said purpose.
The following specific measures are therefore proposed:
o The President of the Government of Spain shall have the power to order the early dissolution of the Catalan regional Parliament, and accordingly to call regional elections.
This power must be exercised within a period of six months.
o The Generalitat administration shall act in accordance with the instructions of the bodies and authorities that the Government of Spain appoints or creates for said purpose. This measure shall apply to: all acts, resolutions and other provisions; appointing, removing or disciplining personnel; as well as to official publications.
o Within this framework, a set of special measures shall be established taking into account the particularly sensitive nature of certain matters such as: security and public order; management of economic, financial, fiscal and budgetary matters; and telecommunications.
o The Parliament of Catalonia shall continue to perform its representative duties. However, a number of measures shall be established to ensure that it does so with the utmost respect for the Spanish Constitution and for Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy.
Lastly, the measures proposed by the Spanish Government shall remain in place and shall apply until a new Generalitat executive has assumed office, following the elections called for this purpose.