Cabinet passes foreign policy curb on regions’ diplomatic clout

Local administrations will be “subject to guidelines, goals and objectives established by the government”

The Cabinet approved two new bills on Friday: one on foreign policy, which will launch “21st-century diplomacy,” according to Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, and another on the activity of private detectives.

The first initiative has already raised criticism from regional governments desirous of a strong role in foreign policy. The bill clearly states that local and regional action abroad “will be subject to foreign policy guidelines, goals and objectives established by the government,” and that regional governments may not sign international treaties, create international obligations or responsibilities for the state, “nor interfere with the government’s foreign policy.”

Although it does not say so clearly, this initiative by the conservative Popular Party (PP) seeks to curtail diplomatic activity by nationalist parties from regions such as Catalonia and the Basque Country, which keep offices open in many parts of the world and regularly partner with cultural institutions abroad to maintain a high profile and disseminate their own vision of national and regional realities.

The Cabinet also gave the green light to a bill that places greater control on private eyes, by among other things making them sign a contract with their clients about which they will immediately have to inform the police. Additionally, law enforcement officials will have the right to access any detective reports.

The Professional Detective Association has criticized the reform as a knee-jerk reaction to a recent scandal in which several high-ranking PP officials were spied on by the agency Método 3.

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