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Home » Content » Constitutionalist Eliseo Aja. The system no longer works well, you have to adjust it
ELISEO AJA, DIRECTOR OF THE AUTONOMY FORUM. The director during these 30 years of the Forum of the Autonomies pleads for the reform of the Constitution and for a commitment of loyalty, collaboration and friendly behavior

The constitutionalist Eliseo Aja.

There are very few public servants in Spain who know more about the State of the Autonomies created from the Constitution of 1978 than the 73-year-old professor Eliseo Aja, director during the 30 years of the Forum which auscultates the functioning of this autonomic model. Aja was also the first president of the Council of Statutory Guarantees of the Generalitat of Catalonia, an organ created in 2009 by the socialist president José Montilla, equivalent to the Constitutional Court and designed to ensure that the laws approved by the Catalan parliament are adapted to the Magna Carta and the Statute of Autonomy. He was relieved in 2017.

The eighth edition of the Forum of Autonomies presented on Thursday in the Senate, in a day of debate and fraternization, its balance among its more than 30 member experts, which is much more than a still image of how we are as a country and what is waiting for us. The autonomies, which are the ones that finance this project with the consortium of several universities, asked the specialists that this year they put part of their focus on the phenomenon of depopulation and the Menas, unaccompanied foreign minors.

Q: Did we go overboard with the State of Autonomies?

A: No, but it does not work well, because we did not build it well. All conflicts of jurisdiction end up in the Constitutional, which is not its function. We do not have in each land or autonomy a Constitution but a statute and the statutes are as organic laws as for example the one of Education and that provokes, as pointed out by the professor Javier García Roca, 17 competence systems. In addition, there is no collaboration between the autonomies because there are no bodies that promote this collaboration, because the bilateral commissions depend on what the minister in charge decides and the Senate does not fulfill that function.

Q: What should be done now to function better?

A: Just make the pieces fit. There are already specific examples of viable systems that work like the German, Austrian, Swiss or United States federal system. Germany has applied 60 reforms to its Constitution. And we should add the basic principle of federal loyalty, which means that any member must respect all others in the federation and must have ‘friendly behavior’. Nobody should speak badly about the Spanish system and there should be an integrated global vision and not 17, each one on its own.

Q: And how do we make fit together now the failing parts of the system?

A: There is no other way than the reform of the Constitution. The Catalan Statute sought to reform things in the Constitution and a serious solution for Catalonia has to be accepted by all the autonomies.

Q: How do we work for that?

A: The first thing should be to create a common language, because there is a total lack of communication between the governments. Institutions do not have freedom of expression, it is only for the citizens. And then, above all, to attend to the principle of loyalty of all and not using, on the part of the State, extraordinary methods such as the intervention of autonomy through article 155, which only makes sense in exceptional situations.


Javier Casqueiro         

Madrid 29 MAR 2019 – 22:55 CET


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