LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Spain’s finance minister on Monday blamed the Catalan government for companies moving their headquarters out of the region, while his euro zone colleagues played down the impact of the Spanish crisis on the shared currency.
In recent weeks, a stream of Catalonia-based firms and banks have moved their legal bases outside the regionas a crisis over a Catalonian push for independence from Spain deepened.
Caixabank, Spain’s number 3 bank, and Banco Sabadell, the number 5, have both moved their head offices out of Catalonia last week following an independence referendum that the Madrid government attempted to block.
“The exit of many companies from Catalonia is the consequence of the irrational and radical policies implemented and pursued by the (regional) government,” minister Luis de Guindos said as he arrived for a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Luxembourg.
Losing Catalonia would have a significant impact on Spain, as the region makes up a fifth of the country’s economic output and more than a quarter of its exports. Some fear it will impact on the euro zone economy, which is slowly recovering from a recession at the start of the decade.
Nevertheless, most euro zone ministers declined to get drawn into a discussion on the situation in Catalonia, with Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem describing it as a “domestic issue”.
“I hope that those prevail in Spain, who understand that, as the Spanish Prime Minister has said, law and constitution are the basis on which we operate,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.
European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, asked about the economic impact of the Catalan debate, said the Spanish constitutional order must be respected.
“This situation cannot be solved by violence, we have to find a solution through dialogue, this is also true when you consider the economic oint of view,” he said.
Spain also sought to reassure international investors concerned about the political situation in the country.
“The message is crystal clear: Catalonian independence is not going to happen,” De Guindos said.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Angus MacSwan