Source Pravda.Ru

Spain: parliament agrees to consider Catalan autonomy proposal

Spanish and Catalan leaders said Thursday that power over collecting taxes is shaping up as their biggest dispute as they digest a divisive proposal to give the northeast region much greater autonomy.Meanwhile, Basque leaders, who are also seeking more self-rule for their region, weighed in, wondering why their blueprint for more say over their own affairs was voted down in parliament earlier this year.

Spain's parliament agreed early Thursday to take up the Catalan blueprint for formal consideration, sending it to the committee stage in a process that might take several months.

It has infuriated conservatives who say it might lead to the break-up of Spain, the AP reports.

The proposed new Catalan charter also seeks to give the Barcelona government power to change laws passed by the Spanish parliament and a status of peer in its dealings with the Spanish government. It would also give the Catalan region exclusive say over areas ranging from culture to immigration to airports.

But both sides say money is the main point of disagreement. The Catalan plan calls for the region around Barcelona to raise and spend its own taxes. But in a debate Wednesday at the Congress of Deputies, the lower chamber of parliament, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the Spanish state must retain its power to raise revenue around the country.

Zapatero said he was willing to negotiate the proposals, adding that the wealthy region has a constitutional right to seek more self-rule. A.M.

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