By Deirdre Tynan • 01 July 2021 • 15:26
President Juanma Moreno.
Image: Junta de Andalucia
The Junta de Andalucia, aggrieved by the apparent special treatment of Catalonia, will ask the regional parliament to reactivate a Bilateral Commission between Seville and Madrid in order to increase its leveraging power. Billions in EU funding are at stake, the Partido Popular (PP) claims.
It took the PP president of Andalucia, Juanma Moreno, more than two years to get a meeting with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. Pere Aragones, the pro-independence leader of Catalonia, was granted one within two months of his inauguration.
Already the Catalans have opened a clear-cut agenda and negotiations with the central government, while Moreno’s meeting with Sanchez in La Moncloa on June 18 was inconclusive. At stake are billions of euros in EU recovery and Covid funds which Moreno maintains will not be fairly distributed under Spain’s current system of regional financing which has been in place since 2009.
On July 7, the next plenary session of Andalucia’s regional parliament, the PP will ask the chamber to reactivate the Regional Commission to increase its clout and lobbying powers with Madrid.
Moreno mooted the Commission during his meeting with Sanchez and despite no formal objections to the idea, but Madrid has not yet taken any initiative on its part.
PP parliamentary spokesman, Jose Antonio Nieto, said on June 30, “Since 2011, the Catalans have been going on and on that Spain is stealing from them when they were the ones who imposed the financing model that they now want to repeal. We are not going to allow any extra privileges for another autonomous community. We, without being destructive or going against the courts, are not going to shut up. We will be good, but not stupid.”
Moreno will also use the July 7 plenary session in the Palacio de San Telmo to call for “maximum collaboration and coordination” between the different regions as he joins forces with his counterpart in Valencia to pressure the government into making changes to Spain’s regional financing model which has been in place since 2009.
The current system, Moreno says, is short-changing Andalucia four million euros every day and has led to a cumulative debt of more than 10 billion euros.
He is also likely to stress that there can be no national recovery for Spain if Andalucia does not receive “adequate financial resources”.
Moreno, whose influence within his own centre-right party is growing, is seeking alliances beyond the PP to compel the government to overhaul the current regional financing system.
This includes reaching out to his socialist counterpart in Valencia, Ximo Puig, to form an unlikely political partnership to secure regional financing reform. Both autonomous communities claim they are missing out on billions in funding from Madrid and will resent any attempt by Catalonia to jump to the front of the queue.
Puig will travel to Sevilla in September, in a move that has surprised observers as Spain’s political environment becomes increasingly more heated. He said on June 22, “institutionality is above partisanship” and he pledged that he and Moreno will “work together” to achieve national reforms.
Puig and Moreno met on the side-lines of an economic forum in Barcelona just hours before Moreno travelled to Madrid for his one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Sanchez.
Following the meeting, Moreno told reporters, “Andalucia does not want to be ‘above’ anyone, but we will never tolerate being ‘below’ anyone. This is absolutely urgent. We cannot take much longer. We have been looking for money under stones and trying to balance the accounts permanently.”
However, the Minister of Finance, Maria Jesus Montero, who was previously the Andalucian regional Minister of Finance, refuted Moreno’s claim and demanded that Moreno use his influence within the PP to seek an agreement on financing reforms within the party.
Any change in the financing system has to be voted on as an organic law in Congress, and the ruling PSOE are reluctant to hold a vote on it if they do not first have guaranteed support from the PP.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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