The Government and the Generalitat are experiencing the most fluid relationship in a decade, with practically constant dialogue and frequent meetings at various levels. In public, each party maintains its position on the procés: the Catalan administration proposes a referendum and amnesty while Moncloa squeezes and expands its agenda for the meeting. But what are the two governments talking about once they have already expressed their differences over “the conflict”? What matters do they deal with and what are they bound to understand each other? elDiario.es has had access, thanks to a request for access to public information, to the documentation dealt with in the last Bilateral meeting, held on August 2 in Madrid. Some papers that allow you to see through the lock what issues are on the table in a meeting of this type.
This summer’s meeting was the tenth meeting of the Bilateral Commission, provided for in the Statute, since it was created in 2007. However, it must be taken into account that between 2011 and 2018 this table never met and, since That the relationship was resumed, it has done it twice. On August 2, a team of seven people led by Minister Isabel Rodríguez and another seven by the Generalitat met on the part of the Government, with the Minister Laura Vilagrà at the helm. Two state secretaries also sat at the table, the Government delegate in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera, the vice-president of the Government, Jordi Puigneró, and the Minister of Economy, Jaume Giró.
The nine-point agenda was not long, but the meeting had previously provided four reports and two annexes on the state of relations between the two administrations in different aspects, from the competency conflict to the agreements signed, through the transfers claimed or in process. In total 186 pages with all the details of the current state of relations between the two administrations in the last three years.
The transfer report is not the longest, but it is the point where governments always have the most friction. To begin with, the Generalitat maintains a long list of active demands, such as the transfer of the Renfe Cercanías services, which last week became topical again due to the strike. In the previous meeting of the Bilateral, in 2018, the Government had wielded this issue, as well as the so-called Salamanca Archive, scholarships, the territorialization of immigration subsidies, labor mutuals or the management and collection of the registration tax , among many others.
But the Ministry ugly to the Generalitat that it never sent them the report to which they had committed themselves in that meeting, which is why they assure that it has not been possible to advance hardly. During the last three years there have only been advances in the financing of justice, thanks to a decree of December 2020 in which the creation of 10 courts and a new section of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia was recognized. The State thus recognized a need for an annual allocation of just over a million euros, to which should be added a transfer of 5.2 million transferred in a single payment for backward expenses.
The MIR, controversial transfer but moving forward
The system for training medical specialists, known as MIR, is another issue that sparks sparks in relations between Madrid and Barcelona. In 2018 the Generalitat had claimed it and it is one of the matters in which the most progress was made during the last Bilateral. As Minister Rodríguez announced after the meeting, the Government and the Generalitat agreed to create a working group with the aim of studying “the viability” of this transfer. But this generated controversy in the sector, to the point that another minister, the head of Health, Carolina Darias, was forced to clarify her partner in the Council of Ministers.
“I have to make it very clear that this government is going to continue with the same system that we have now. No transfer on this matter is on the government’s agenda,” said Darias. Hours later, Minister Vilagrà replied: “Minister, in the Bilateral Commission the Catalan and Spanish governments agreed to create a working group to discuss this transfer and others. Therefore, it is on the agenda.”
The documents obtained, beyond the final will that each government may have, agree with the second part. The possible transfer of the MIR appears in one of the signed agreements. The literality of the text states: “A Working Group is created to analyze the feasibility of possible transfers of functions and services to the Autonomous Community, including, among others, transfers in specialized health training. […] It will also assess the origin of the transfer, by means of the corresponding legal instrument, of the ownership of the real estate requested by the Autonomous Community “.
The transfer of the Minimum Vital Income, buried
Catalonia claims the management of the Minimum Vital Income almost from the moment this benefit was launched, in June 2020. The Generalitat understands that the powers in matters of Social Security allow it to have control over the funds, resolve the Requests to access the benefit or manage payments. In addition, in November 2020 Pere Aragonès announced that the agreement with the Government for the approval of the General State Budgets included that the Generalitat would directly manage the IMV. However, the Government closed the door to the transfer in the last Bilateral.
“There is no room for the transfer to the Autonomous Community of Catalonia of functions and services assigned to the management of the minimum vital income, since Royal Decree-Law 20/2020, of May 29, attributes such a function to the INSS in general, circumscribing the transfer to the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country and the Foral Community of Navarra “, stated the report that was shared with the Generalitat at the meeting of last July 2. As explained in the same document, the reason for this disparity between Catalonia and the Basque Country and Navarra is precisely their provincial nature, that is, that they have their own farms, as provided for in the legislation that created the IMV.
In the Bilateral it was clear that there would be no transfer of this policy by will, but the Generalitat still had one opportunity: the Constitutional route. The Government had litigated for several months for the TC to recognize the powers that they wielded, but ultimately it was not. On September 22, the court ruled that the centralized management of the IMV did not invade the powers of the autonomies, thus closing the Catalan claim through the courts.
However, the Ministry of Inclusion affirms that it is collaborating closely with the Generalitat both to expose recipients and to coordinate the state provision with the regional one. This joint work, they argue from the Ministry, has as its first objective to achieve a single window for this type of income, something that does not exist at this time. Later, some type of autonomic transfer could be reached, they affirm, although at the moment they do not put a date.
Rodalies: more resources without transfer from Renfe
Renfe’s commuter service, known as Rodalies in Catalonia, have been in the eye of the hurricane for the last two weeks, due to a strike by drivers. In some days, especially at the beginning of the protest, the workers have not fulfilled the minimum services and this has generated serious problems for the users of the railway network. Last Monday, one of the days of greatest chaos in the vicinity, ERC, Junts and Comuns agreed to demand the transfer of the service to the Generalitat, something that the PSC does not see with bad eyes either, although it doubts that it is the solution. Those who are clearly against it are the majority unions of machinists, to the point that showing resistance to the transfer is one of the reasons for the strike.
In this chapter the versions are again contradictory. “The transfer of Rodalies is on the table,” said ERC spokeswoman Marta Vilalta, in relation to the negotiation of budgets with the Government. Renfe, on the other hand, denies that the transfer of infrastructure is a possibility. The president of Renfe, Isaías Táboas, denies that a transfer of trains or personnel is being considered. “They are talking about the transfer of economic resources so that they can pay Renfe for services,” explained Táboas, who describes it as an “anomaly” that the State and not the Generalitat continue to manage these payments.
Again, the Bilateral papers hold the key. In the signed agreements, there is a point to comply with one of the additional provisions of the budgets, which deals with this matter. What has now been agreed between the two administrations is to hold a new meeting of the Mixed Commission for Economic Affairs to “analyze and definitively agree on the procedure to make effective the transfers of resources” from the State to the Generalitat, “corresponding to the services of passenger transport by local and regional rail “. That is to say, the economic funds, but not the infrastructure, the trains, or the personnel, which will continue to belong to Renfe.
Crashes before the TC: four of the Generalitat against eight of the Government
Another of the issues dealt with in the Bilateral was the clashes that had occurred between the two administrations for jurisdictional issues before the Constitutional Court. Both governments have the will that they be as few as possible and for this reason there is a subcommittee, quite active, that tries to negotiate when there is disparity of criteria before reaching the judicial route. In fact, most disputes end in agreement. Since August 2018, the Government and the Generalitat have signed 44 agreements in total to amend and file the contrary, thus avoiding all those appeals before the court of guarantees.
However, there are times when the agreement is not possible and the crash occurs. In the period of time analyzed, that is, from August 2018 until the last meeting of the Bilateral took place, there have been 12 appeals to the Constitutional Court, four of them promoted by the Generalitat and eight by the Government. Among the latter is the challenge to the law that limits rental prices in Catalonia, which the central Executive considered that it invaded its plot as the State had exclusive jurisdiction over civil legislation, in addition to a state law on urban leases. Previously, it had brought to court the Catalan law that gave municipalities powers over coastal planning or the green tax on facilities with a high impact on the environment.
The Generalitat, for its part, had brought before the Constitutional Court the aforementioned Minimum Vital Income, which the court rejected. As it also rejected that there was an invasion of the State’s competence in a sanction imposed by the National Securities Market Commission on the ANC for its campaign of “strategic consumption” against different Ibex companies, something that the Generalitat understood that in any case it was a task of the Catalan Competition Authority. In what the Constitutional Government did partially agree with, it was in its challenge to a decree on international adoption, which deprived the Generalitat of power to establish procedures with the countries of origin. Finally, both administrations are awaiting the resolution of the appeal filed by Catalonia against the controversial “digital decree”, which empowers the Government to intervene in the structure of the Internet.