THE first Forum in Palma to discuss the European Directive (which allows large stores to open anywhere in the EU) criticised it as “liberal and extreme” and considered it a “serious threat” for small and medium sized businesses. But the Balearic Minister for Commerce, Josep Juan Cardona, vowed to fight it, by exploiting the “exceptions” in the directive which allow motives such as public health, security, the environment and town planning for denying such premises a licence. The forum was attended by representatives of nearly 300'000 shops in Catalonia, Murcia, Valencia and the Balearics.
Cardona, who attended the closing session, said that the directive “reduces the powers of autonomous governments.” The Bolkestein Directive, as it is known, will open the door for large stores to open without taking into account their impact on local busineses.
The European Directive will be a reality in Spain within three years, according to the organisers of the Forum. Cardona said that the Balearic Government are opposed to the Directive and highlighted the importance of reforming the Statute to change territorial criteria. In Majorca, the maximum size of business premises is based on the population. In Palma, for example, it is 1'300 square metres.

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