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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Catalunya and Harrogate

I'll come back to the Harrogate Agenda in more detail, but for now want to focus on the single issue of raising taxes. Currently in the UK 95% of tax is determined and raised centrally, and as local government has become little more than Whitehall's branch network, it's fair to say that 100% of spending is determined centrally. Harrogate proposes that taxes are determined and collected locally, with a precept being paid over to the national government for those functions such as defence that can only be performed at state level. 

In Spain, spending decisions are already largely devolved to the Autonomous Regions (ARs), the Madrid government controlling the spend of only some 18% of all tax raised. But Catalunya wants more - the region wants to raise all taxes itself, and pay a precept to Madrid, rather than Madrid collecting the money and distributing it, as at present. 

What's behind this is the same reason that prompted Harrogate's recommendation. Catalunya fears that Madrid is forcing austerity measures on the regions whilst escaping cutting its own budgets, and wants the power to force budget reductions on the national government.  

And here we need to question all the assumptions about EU regional policy. In the main, it's been a mechanism for distributing regeneration funding through ERDF and ESF rather than encouraging regional identities; in fact only 2.5% of the budget is devoted to the development of regional identity. Berlaymont would much rather deal with just 27 state governments than the 344 regions represented on the Committee of the Regions. Subsidiarity in Europe is like Localism to Cameron - just a word. The EU is as centralist in reality as any oligarch. In the face of rising nationalism throughout Europe, the EU is actively discouraging any regional independence; both Scotland and Catalunya have been told that independence will put them back at the start, as candidate nations. Barcelona should not look for help from Brussels - it won't get it.  


G. Tingey said...

I hate to say it, but the EU may have finally stuffed that greasy little scrote Salmond's turkey, - permanently.

We need a United Federation of the Isles, with all of Ireland on the inside, and all of us outside the EU but in SHengen.
[ Like Norway & Switzerland ]

Wildgoose said...

On the other hand, from an explicitly English perspective, Salmond is a politician determined to look after Scotland's best interests.

England has no MPs looking out for us though. Devolution made the English second class citizens overnight. The Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish insist that the English should have no involvement in their internal affairs beyond paying the bill, whilst they all still insist on their "right" to interfere with how England governs itself.

It is no surprise then that England, which already has the least spending per capita, is now suffering twice the spending restrictions that are being imposed on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland despite the lower base.

It increasingly seems to me that the only way to get at least some of our politicians to stop treating England with contempt is for the disUnited Kingdom to break up - and so all power to Salmond's elbow and roll on 2014 and the Independence Referendum.

Anonymous said...

I reckon that one of the most important aspects of Harrogate is that it recognises that the people are sovereign, and that the smallest constituency is the most representative of that sovereignty.

What we have been told, and what has been happening progressively, but particularly since the 1940's is a gradual transfer of that sovereignty, aided and abetted by "the sovereign" to a foreign power.

The government which is supposed to represent the political aspect of the sovereign's oath is happy with this arrangement, because firstly it was the instigator, and secondly it always gives them someone to blame for any ill, and apparently protects the interests of the party and the people that the party represents. However, to look at the dwindling membership, apparent lack of interest, and massive drop in voter participation, I think that these people might be mistaken.

Another beautiful aspect of Harrogate, is that it recognises that all the parties/political representatives should be treated equally as private clubs...

This is not a party issue at all, but a successful implementation will be good for the parties and the professional politicians that will be the most resistant to said implementation.

Politics is all about people, and the human scale is much smaller than the nation state, the political union concept, or the world union concept. Computers, might be able to cope, but humans can't.

Sue said...

"Spain Warns Catalonia Separatists of Treason Charges in Military Court; Looming Showdown between Spain and Catalonia.

This is the ironic bit "The Spanish military warned officials who do not guard the sovereignty and constitution of Spain".

That's really going to incite Catalonians, trouble ahead.

I still can't quite understand the implementation of this

It's not a snub to NUTS of course, as we all know Libdims are fiercely pro-EU.

DeeDee99 said...

Catalunya may not get any help from the EU, but it looks like it is prepared to help itself. The EU's policy of regionalisation - whilst possibly not intended to stoke the flames of separatism - has done and will do just that.

With southern Europe in crisis, we can expect mini civil wars to start up in the next decade - along the lines of ETA and the IRA.

The Kommissars are driving Europe to war.

cuffleyburgers said...

Interesting analysis - the problem is that locally determined taxation and spending decisions have not made Spain a paragon of wisdom fiscally... hardly an example to be copied.