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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Spain MPs back Catalonia autonomy
Catalan protester
Rights won by Catalonia could be available to other regions
Spain's parliament has approved a definitive version of a plan for greater independence for the north-eastern region of Catalonia.

The statute was passed by 189-154 votes with opposition from the conservative Popular Party and Catalan separatists.

The PP said it threatened Spain, while the Catalan republican left (ERC) said it did not go far enough.

The charter will now pass to the Senate before going to the Catalan parliament and a public vote in the region.


Correspondents say the progress of this autonomy plan is thought to have influenced the ceasefire announced by the armed Basque separatists Eta.

Supporters see it as evidence of how the constitution can satisfy separatist demands through political negotiation.

Now that the plan been approved, the measures - including more local Catalan control over finances and the judiciary - are technically available to every other Spanish region.

The dialogue with the national government that has allowed the plan to prosper stands in contrast to the long history of violent struggle in the Basque region, says the BBC's Danny Wood.

Key wording

The Eta ceasefire announcement came just days after Spain's constitutional commission approved the use of the word "nation" in the preamble to Catalonia's autonomy document.

The word "nation" is held very dear by separatists all over Spain.

But the Catalan plan also has strong opposition. Detractors say it goes too far and will cause the break-up of the Spanish state.

The PP has already tried to stop the plan by filing a legal suit in Spain's constitutional court.

The Catalan people are expected to have the opportunity to vote on a final document in June.

A tale of two Spanish cities
11 Feb 06 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Catalan MPs pass autonomy plans
30 Sep 05 |  Europe
Catalan concerns over EU vote
17 Feb 05 |  Europe
Catalan bid for 'sovereignty'
24 Mar 03 |  Europe
Country profile: Spain
22 Mar 06 |  Country profiles

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