ROYAL SCANDAL

Proposed new transparency law will in part cover the royal family

Negotiation with Crown on monarchy’s inclusion began two months ago

The Royal Household and the government have agreed to include the Crown in the Transparency Law that is currently being drawn up, sources at the Zarzuela Palace said, confirming a report by Reuters.

Negotiations began two months ago at the request of the Royal Household, which decided that it could not be left out of the process of making public bodies more accountable at a time when it has suffered a serious deterioration in its image.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría told a news conference after the regular Friday Cabinet meeting that the Royal Household's inclusion in the new legislation would not be full since the monarchy is not a public administration. She said the government is studying other legal frameworks in place in the rest of Europe. "From next week onwards we will inform you of the state of the negotiations," Sáenz de Santamaría said.

The deputy prime minister, who had previously insisted that the legislation should not cover the royal family, defended the move to include it now. She said there is a section of the Constitution that establishes a "series of special features" that apply to the Royal Household, adding that these needed to be respected.

From next week onwards we will inform you of the state of the negotiations"

The treatment the royal family will receive in the new legislation will be similar to that of Congress and the Senate, which are also not public administrations. Sources at the Zarzuela Palace said that on the initiative of the head of the Royal Household, Rafael Spottorno, talks with the government have revolved around preserving the principles laid down for the monarchy in the Constitution.

Sáenz de Santamaría said the Royal Household had taken part in the discussions in a spirit of "absolute cooperation and willingness." She said the decision to include the monarchy in the proposed new law stemmed from a parliamentary agreement reached after the State of the Nation debate in February.

The legislation has been making its passage through parliament since September of last year. The draft bill aims to provide regulations governing citizens' access to information about public administrations, and among other things, will include a list of ethical principles with fines and sanctions for those in high office who breach them.

In his first news conference in three months, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Thursday there were no measures planned to improve the image of the Royal Household in the wake of Princess Cristina being initially named as an official suspect in the investigation into the business dealings of her husband Iñaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma. An investigating judge on Friday decided to suspend the subpoena at the request of the state prosecutor's office.

The main opposition Socialist Party (PSOE) welcomed the decision to include the Royal Household in the new legislation. Party sources said the PSOE had been asking for its inclusion for months despite the opposition of the government and the ruling Popular Party. The deputy secretary general of the Socialists, Elena Valenciano, on Thursday said transparency was good for public institutions, and that the inclusion of the royal family in the initiative would lend stability to an institution that has suffered an "evident deterioration."

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