The elimination of single-use plastic bags is at the centre of legislative differences.

15-07-2018A. Pinell

The Spanish government may well take Balearic legislation on waste to the Constitutional Court. The government has identified two articles in the legislation which appear to invade state competences. These are to do with taxes on the quantity of waste and plastic bags.

Sebastià Sansó, the regional government's director general for waste, says that Balearic legislation is in line with European directives. For this reason, the government will not be stepping down from principles that are of fundamental importance. He adds that the statute of regional autonomy allows for additional regulations for environmental protection. This is what has been done, and the Balearic law has followed European guidelines in the same way as equivalent legislation in Navarre has. However, the Spanish government has already referred the Navarre law to the Constitutional Court.

The disagreement on taxes centres on town halls being allowed to fix them according to the amount of waste generated. Madrid argues that regulation of local taxation in this instance is a state competence. With regard to plastic bags, regional legislation is specific in not allowing shops to use single-use bags from 2021. National law isn't the same in its detail and in respect of material.

Madrid, as is normal when there are disagreements such as this, has offered to set up a bilateral committee to consider the contradictions and try and resolve them without the legislation being referred to the Constitutional Court. The basis for challenges by the Spanish government is the possible violation of state competences rather than philosophical or political differences.