16 months have passed since Pedro Sánchez promised to promote, together with Felipe VI, a “roadmap” for the “transparency and exemplary nature” of the Royal House in the midst of a scandal over the fortune of the emeritus until Moncloa and Zarzuela have closed the details of the royal decree that modifies the structure and operation of the institution to which the Council of Ministers has given the green light this Tuesday. “Today the monarchy takes a step forward in terms of accountability and aligns itself with the highest standards of other European royal houses”, said the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, in the presentation. One of the main novelties is that the Court of Accounts will audit the Royal House, which was currently beyond the control of the party and public administration supervisory body. In this way, it will have an “external audit” that allows it to cast a “true image” of the “financial situation” of Zarzuela, according to the minister.
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The new decree includes a regulation in the contracting processes. “The principle of publicity is introduced in all contracts, respecting budgetary autonomy and principles that already govern the public administration”, as explained by Bolaños, who has assured that “new contracting instructions and publication on the web will be approved”. “The staff of the House must carry out their functions in accordance with the code of conduct that governs the House of the King,” added Bolaños, who referred to the obligation to “watch over general interests” and be governed by principles such as exemplarity, neutrality, honesty or equality, among others. However, there is no sanctioning regime, although the socialist has been convinced that the rules will be complied with, despite the fact that this has not been the case in the past during the reign of Juan Carlos I: “There is no doubt about its binding force ”.
The Government ruled out promoting a Crown Law that would regulate the activity of the monarchy in the face of the parliamentary fracture and opted for the royal decree, which does not require passing through Congress. In fact, the intention is that not even the report of the Court of Auditors be sent to Parliament, according to El País, although the Government assures that it will be published on the Moncloa website.
However, Bolaños has highlighted the importance of the step that has been taken. “It is a royal decree that is a very important point of arrival”, he declared, making it clear that they do not intend to go further. In fact, the Executive has renounced withdrawing the inviolability of the monarch, which is an issue that Pedro Sánchez has always defended, although he has assumed that it would mean opening the melon of constitutional reform. Despite the fact that United We Can has insisted on the need to end that privilege that has saved the emeritus from the courts, the Minister of the Presidency has assured that the decree is agreed upon with the minority partner and also with the PP. What it has not entered into is the United We Can complaint that Casa Real communicated to other parties, including Vox, the news regarding the publicity of the monarch’s heritage: “I can say little. It has been a courtesy of Casa Real with some groups and I value it positively”.
And it is that one day before the Council of Ministers approved the text on which former Vice President Carmen Calvo began to work, Zarzuela published for the first time the personal assets of the head of state, which amounts to 2.5 million euros. Just a few minutes after that statement from the Casa del Rey, Moncloa announced the approval of the new regulation with which he intends to reinforce “transparency, accountability, efficiency and exemplary character in the Royal House.” However, the publication of this declaration of assets, which according to the Government was at the “initiative” of Felipe VI, does not appear as mandatory in the decree, so it will depend on the will of the monarch.
Those who will have to publish their declaration of assets periodically are the senior officials of Zarzuela and the management team, as is the case in all areas of the General State Administration. This will allow you to know your assets when you access the position and when you leave it. The queen, who did not make her declaration of assets public as her husband did, is excluded from all these issues.
No penalty system
The Constitution grants the Head of State the prerogative to organize the King’s House and distribute the funds that he annually receives from the General State Budgets. However, there are numerous expenses that are borne by other ministries, such as the Presidency – on whom the staff depends, except for senior positions -, the Interior, the Treasury, or Defense, among others. This situation does not change, despite the fact that since the restoration of democracy it has allowed total opacity over the finances of the monarchy, which has been open to small changes until now.
In this sense, the royal decree grants “legal status” to processes that were already underway, such as the publication of budgets and quarterly executions, signed contracts, remuneration, and the annual activity report. As for institutional gifts, they will be “inventoried and guarded in order to study whether they remain in the House, go to National Heritage or are donated to non-profit entities”, according to the minister. Regarding health care, he explained that it was a matter that de facto depended on the Royal Guard and that now it is “given legal status”. However, King Juan Carlos, for example, underwent hip surgery in a private clinic. At that time Zarzuela refused to detail how the cost was financed beyond ensuring that it was borne by the budget allocation of the Royal House.
The Government’s intention is that “some services are linked to the public function”. Thus, the intervention office will be exercised by an official from the body of state auditors and the king’s diplomatic adviser “will be an official belonging to the diplomatic career.”