Editorial, La Vanguardia, 13 December 2021
XXII Conference of Autonomous Presidents with the president of the European Commission. CAIB 10/26/2020 Illustrated Service (Automatic) / EP
The proposal to decentralize the headquarters of State institutions and public companies, to which the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, has referred on several occasions recently, requires firm determination. It should not be left alone in words. The current state of autonomies needs this decentralization of central power, which has been claimed for years from Catalonia, but which more territories are increasingly demanding. The presidents of Aragon and the Valencian Community, Javier Lambán and Ximo Puig, respectively, plan, in this sense, to lead a movement to call for the decentralization of the State.
Germany, which is the most decentralized European State, with a federal structure, has the headquarters of its institutions and public companies distributed throughout the territory, which contributes to an equitable distribution of power and the creation of wealth and employment associated with the state institutions. Spain, which also has a very high level of decentralization, should follow the German model.
President Sánchez’s plan to distribute the state headquarters requires great determination
Madrid has 233 headquarters of state public institutions, agencies and entities, practically the majority of those in the country, which accumulate significant political, economic, social or cultural decision-making power.
It makes no sense that the capital concentrates almost all the power of the central State, since that weakens the State itself and sows the germ of territorial disintegration. This should not be considered as an attack on Madrid or its autonomous community, although its president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, considers it as such.
A new power structure in Spain that distributes the benefits of centrality more equitably, and that ends the obsession to concentrate in a single capital all the powers, public and private, is fundamental, as the Cercle d’Economia also affirms, when looking for solutions to the territorial conflict. If in 1992 the proposal of the then mayor of Barcelona, Pasqual Maragall, to move the headquarters of the Senate to Barcelona and bet seriously on cocapitality, many of the problems that Catalonia has suffered and suffers would have surely been avoided.
The current high-speed rail network, which is the most important in Europe, which is still in full development and which facilitates comfortable communication between the main capitals of the country, should contribute to facilitating this distribution of headquarters, which would have a cohesive significant impact.
It seems very difficult, however, to break with an inertia of concentration of power in Madrid that has dragged on for centuries and that, paradoxically, is increasing despite the increase in network and physical communications. The obstacles that must be overcome are enormous, not only political but also labor, because the officials who work in these institutional headquarters are the first to pose a fierce opposition, as well as the entire network of economic power and social interests woven around it. them and that it is fully consolidated in Madrid.
The solemn manifestations of President Sánchez in favor of the decentralization of State institutions have already been downplayed by government spokespersons by stating that this process will only affect newly created institutions. But President Sánchez should persevere in his determination to forge a more territorially cohesive state, both politically, socially and economically, as a platform to promote the collective progress that the country needs in the 21st century. If one does not work thoroughly in this sense, seeking to weave the maximum alliances, the decentralization that Sánchez raises will remain an impossible dream.