Contentious-administrative appeal against the Generalitat de Cataluña (Catalan Government) Decree re-establishing Generalitat government offices in certain countries

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign, European Union and Cooperation Affairs (MAUC) will submit a contentious-administrative appeal against Generalitat de Cataluña Decree 126/2018, of 26 June, which re-establishes Generalitat government offices in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Germany, the United States of America, Italy, Switzerland and France, since the conditions established by current law on creating offices abroad for Spanish Autonomous Regions (CCAA, as they are known by the Spanish acronym) have not been met.

In fact, article 12 of Spanish Law 2/2014, of 25 March, on State Actions and Foreign Services sets forth that CCAAs must communicate their intentions to the Government of Spain before creating any offices abroad for the exercise of their powers in order for MAUC to be able to issue a report on whether the proposal fulfils the guidelines, purposes and objectives of the Spanish Foreign Policy and Spanish Strategy for Foreign Actions and, in particular, the principle of united action abroad. In addition, the Spanish Ministry of the Tax Administration must issue a report concerning the principle of efficient management of public resources and the Spanish Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Duty must issue a report on whether the proposal complies with the legal framework for regional powers.

The Generalitat communicated the creation of these offices to MAUC only 24 hours before adopting the decree creating them, which makes it impossible to issue such reports.

In conversations between MAUC and the Generalitat Department of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, the latter explained that in all reality it was not opening any new offices but rather re-opening the ones the central government had closed in virtue of the application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. However, the legal procedures were also not followed when creating said offices following the entry into force of Spanish Law 2/2014.  Therefore, the former government filed the corresponding contentious-administrative appeals which were closed by the High Court of Justice of Catalonia in the understanding that the object of the appeal was no longer applicable after said offices had been eliminated.

The Generalitat also argued that no initiative had been taken in practice to begin their operation and, therefore, MAUC had expected rectification and compliance with the procedure established by current law before the deadline for filing an appeal.

Nonetheless, the Generalitat reinstated the delegates in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Germany, Italy and Switzerland during the month of July and announced calls in the month of August to appoint the directors of the offices in France and the United States of America, which means it is clear it does not intend to comply with the provisions of said Spanish Law 2/2014, and intends to ignore repeated warnings to do so.

MAUC is not questioning the right of the Government of the Generalitat de Cataluña to establish offices abroad for the exercise of relevant foreign affairs activities within the scope of its powers; however, the creation of these Offices must comply with the provisions of Spanish Law on State Actions and Foreign Services.

MAUC believes that it is unfortunate to have to file appeals with the contentious-administrative jurisdiction yet has no other choice as it must ensure respect for the law. This appeal will obviously not affect the 40 offices the Generalitat maintains as trade offices, the 13 tourist offices and 8 cultural offices, which have been created pursuant to the legal procedure in effect.





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