REGIONAL POLITICS

Minister calls on regions to pull together to help recovery, leave divisions aside

“The recession will have ended in the third quarter," says Montoro

In clear reference to the sovereignty drive in Catalonia, Finance Minister Cristóbal Montoro on Tuesday called on Spain’s regions to pull together to help the economy recover with the assistance of Europe.

“It doesn’t make any sense for anybody to leave Europe,” Montoro said during a debate in Congress on the 2014 state budget. The European Union has indicated that if Catalonia were to secede from Spain, it would also be excluded from the EU.

“Together we can and should move ahead,” Montoro continued. “Divided and segregated we won’t be able to recover and we will put the European project in danger.”

Returning to the tensions generated by plans to draw up a new system for regional financing, Montoro reminded the regions that a large part of the central government’s budget already goes to supporting services they offer.

Some regions want a new funding system in place before the end of this year, but the conservative Popular Party government of Mariano Rajoy has insisted that an overhaul of the country’s tax regime take precedence. Rajoy has also sought to remove fears among the regions that the government would favor Catalonia in the new system in order to assuage its independence aspirations.

Montoro reiterated that Spain has now put its longest recession in almost half a century behind it. “The recession will have ended, technically speaking, in the third quarter. What is now needed is economic growth to create jobs,” he said.

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