Spain to announce new measures in Catalonia

Published On: February 15, 2018 05:04 PM NPT By: Agencies

SPAIN, Feb 15: Mariano Rajoy's central government is preparing to implement a new round of measures in Catalonia because the Prime Minister's plan to have a new regional executive installed this winter has failed, El País reported on Thursday.

The new measures will seek to organise resources for the region in education, healthcare or public employment "for the next six months and the start of the autumn", the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources in the PM's office, who say a decision has been taken to continue with the "ordinary management of the Catalan administration".

Civil servants are working on the details, with priority action needed in education—deadlines for choosing next September's schools fall at the start of April. Firefighters need to start preparing resources to tackle summer forest fires.

The Spanish government remains opposed to taking control of Catalan public television, TV3, for now, a measure that was discarded in the autumn after consultation with the Spanish Socialist Party and Ciudadanos.

Mr. Rajoy announced immediate regional elections when he decided to use Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution at the end of October to suspend home rule in the region, following a declaration of independence from Spain in the Catalan Parliament on October 27.

Those elections, which were held on December 21, were inconclusive, returning no party with an overall majority. The block of three separatist parties (PDeCat, Esquerra and the CUP) holds a joint majority of two seats if it acts together.

A confidence debate in Carles Puigdemont, scheduled for the end of January, was postponed by the new Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Roger Torrent, who did not announce a new date for the session.

Lawyers for the chamber said on Friday that the suspension of the confidence debate had effectively left politics in the region in limbo: the countdown to new elections will not begin until that first confidence debate occurs, meaning the ball is in Mr. Torrent's court.

The Catalan Parliament announced on Tuesday that the Speaker would file a motion before the European Court of Human Rights "with the aim of protecting the rights of Puigdemont" as regards the confidence debate.

Spain's Constitutional Court ordered the debate must only take place if Mr. Puigdemont were physically present in the chamber and had previously handed himself in to the Supreme Court and requested permission to attend, given there is an outstanding arrest warrant against him.

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