An Urgent and Unavoidable Reform

02/02/2011 Jos? Mar?a Aznar: "The first reason to reform the way we run our autonomic State is that we want to continue being in the centre of the European project. And the European project needs Spain to do it as well as it is capable of. The second reason is this: to guarantee the future of our welfare society. If we are not capable of undertaking the reforms required by the autonomic model, our welfare society will pay the consequences. And the third is to fully enforce the Constitution of 1978 and preserve the right of the Spanish nation to freely decide its own destiny, work for its prosperity and stay united." "We need a State capable of responding to the demands and expectations of its citizens. A State capable of guaranteeing: the rules of the game, equality before the Law and the Courts; cohesion policies, equal access to public services for all citizens, and the rights and freedoms of each and every Spanish person in Spain. "We cannot let countries outside Spain see us as a fragmented, clashing, insecure and unpredictable nation. Neither should we turn our territorial diversity in to a journey to nowhere fuelled by the obsession of being equally different, an ambition as extravagant as is paradoxical" "We must avoid the loss of direction of our autonomic model cancelling the advantages and opportunities of being a big country in Europe. Because Spain cannot compete in Europe or in the world with Autonomous Communities seeking to become mini-States. It is just not possible." Mar?a Dolores de Cospedal: "The principles of rigor and austerity disappeared when Rodr?guez Zapatero stepped into office. Budget balance became a chronic and structural deviation, adopted by the General State Administration it drew with it other councils as well. The Government considered as structural a part of the public income linked to a bullish economic cycle of a temporary nature." "We need to recover budget stability regulations that give back austerity to public accounts, and that establish an expenditure limit and a deficit limit for all administrations. Jos? Mar?a Aznar's Government did it and the Partido Popular has been demanding it for a long time. It is necessary to distinguish between unavoidable expenses and dispensable expenses in the autonomic model." "Among dispensable expenses are those resulting from the 17 autonomic administrations mimetically reproducing the functions of the State. That is not only a luxury in times of prosperity, but it is an unforgivable luxury in times of crisis and a symptom of having loss perspective anytime and anywhere. Many administrations have mistaken luxury with necessity, and this mistake has led us where we are. Rationality is not a multiple of 17. More is not always better, and better is, undoubtedly, less with more." "We have to end overlapping capacities and we need clear regulations, we need less and better laws. We need a homogeneous regulation for the single market, legal security, strong institutions, a swift justice and a sound institutional frame. But above all we need a Government that works, that makes decisions, and that makes them, truly and around, a global plan." Juan Ignacio Zoido: "We all agree that local councils have played a vital role in the 32 years of democracy in Spain. By being closer to citizens, city councils have been able to render a group of services outside our responsibilities without having, in many cases, neither the capacities nor the resources to render them" "The reform of title 10 of the law regulating the bases for local governments made during Jos? Mar?a Aznar's terms in office, is not enough anymore. It is necessary to carry out a deep reform of local funding and that the allocation of capacities among the different administrations is established in a new Law of Bases." "We are of the consideration that expenses shouldn't exceed incomes. Therefore, sufficient funding yes, but also responsible funding." Gabriel Elorriaga: "The autonomic model has worked for many years as an element easing political administration. Transfers to Autonomous Communities have provided stability. But that model exchanging responsibilities for stability is now completely exhausted because the transfers system has reached its limit." "Right now Spain is, and with a big difference, the country where regional governments manage the largest percentage of public spending of Europe." "Recent works suggest that, against what was widely believed, more decentralisation bring less economic growth. Another finding is that bigger decentralisation means more difficulties to react with flexibility before economic crisis situations. The complexity of decision-making procedures in very centralised systems, makes it very difficult to respond in times of crisis. At least from an empirical point of view, this information should be taken in consideration." Remarks by Jos? Mar?a Aznar (in Spanish) by Mar?a Dolores de Cospedal (in Spanish) by Juan Ignacio Zoido (in Spanish)