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Galicia premier rejects bilateral talks in the “shadows” on new funding system

Popular Party’s Núñez Feijóo calls for meeting of regional premiers to discuss issues at stake

Galicia premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
Galicia premier Alberto Núñez Feijóo. EFE

The premier of Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, on Monday called for a meeting of all the country’s regional leaders and the central government to discuss a planned new funding system for the regions and measures to guarantee public services.

Speaking at a seminar in Madrid, Feijóo called for unity and rejected bilateral talks in the “shadows” between Madrid and the regions.

A number of premiers had expressed concerns that the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy might be tempted to negotiate a new system that favors Catalonia in an attempt to diffuse the region’s push for a vote on self-rule. Rajoy has denied that this would be the case.

“In matters of general interest, there cannot nor should not exist other channels [for discussions], neither in the shadows or in back rooms,” Feijóo said. “Nobody can look to have bilateralism substitute common forums.”

In an apparent reference to Catalonia’s independence aspirations, Feijóo warned against “separatist adventures that lead to nowhere” and which deviate the administration’s attention away from the country’s key task: to emerge from the economic crisis. He said this was also the case of “artificial” problems created by regional nationalists that are of no concern to the “great majority” of people.

“The problem is not who has the biggest flag but adhering to the Constitution,” the Galician premier said. Under the Constitution, Catalonia needs the approval of the central government to hold a referendum on the independence.

Feijóo was also critical of the main opposition Socialist Party’s call for amendments to be made to the Constitution to contemplate a more federal structure for the Spanish state.

Feijóo defended Rajoy, a fellow Galician, against criticism that he is too equivocal about major issues and tends to wait for problems to disappear. “I see the Rajoy government as very forceful.”