Barcelona (ACN).- At the annual debate on the State of the Nation at the Spanish Parliament, Prime Minister José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero announced he will impose a spending limit to the Autonomous Community Governments. “In order to guarantee mid-term fiscal sustainability, the [Spanish] Government will propose, within next July’s Financial and Fiscal Policy Council (FFPC), the approval of a spending rule for the Autonomous Communities, similar to the one the State and local councils will adopt”, he stated. The Catalan Government rejected this proposal, as it considers it an attack to fiscal autonomy and self-governance, not adjusted to the reality. “The Catalan Government does not share it […] In no way we will accept this”, stressed the Spokesperson for the Catalan Government Francesc Homs. Homs wondered “if [the Spanish Government] does not pay what it owes [to Catalonia], how can it demand we should not spend what we are obliged to spend according to the powers we have?” He also insisted that the Spanish Government should make its own adjustments, while Catalonia has already reduced its expenditure by 10%.
Zapatero asked for a “collective effort” and “cooperation” from all the administrations; something that is also requested by the Catalan Government to the Spanish Government. However, PM Zapatero demanded “commitment from everyone”, “especially from the Autonomous Communities”. He added that he will propose the measures in the next FFPC, which is the council where all the Autonomous Communities but two meet with the Spanish Government to adjust their fiscal and financial policies, in particular their funding model. For instance, it was the FFPC that approved, without the Catalan votes, the 1.3% objective for the Autonomous Community Governments’ deficit for 2011.
The Spokesperson for the Catalan Government stated that “this means that with this we are eliminating autonomy, and this is not shared by this Government and we will not accept it in any way”. The Catalan Government fears that without true federal institutions in Spain and a fiscal autonomy, imposing a limitation of the spending will bring greater control on the Catalan Government’s budget from the Spanish Government. Homs also stressed that this “unfortunately is not new”, as from Barcelona these measures are often seen as a move from Spanish nationalists to push for a re-centralisation process. In addition, it puts all the 17 Communities in the same basket, as if within the Eurozone the German and the Greek Governments were the same.