Law for the Reserve of the Biosphere Crisis

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The sudden suspension of the Extraordinary Plenary Session that should have approved the Law for the Reserve of the Biosphere of Menorca is worrying for the future of this strategic instrument. Any significant delay will impede the approval for this law by the current legislature.

Providing the Reserve of the Biosphere with a law that regulates some of its key aspects, has always been considered a necessity. The approach is for the Consell Insular (Governing Council of Menorca) to use its capacity for approving a legislative initiative that afterwards is debated in Parliament where the laws are made.

This procedure would have materialised with the Extraordinary Plenary Session of the Consell Insular, convened for Monday 11 April, but the President dismissed it on Sunday, the day before, due to disagreements in the governing team. Because of this, it was then announced that the tripartite government agreement was broken.

The reason for this disagreement would be in some reports that had been sent to the Balearic Government and the Ministry of Ecological Transition where they raised potential disagreements in responsibilities.

In this regard, two assessments must be made.

One is that both reports arrived four days before the Plenary Session for approval was to be held. It should be remembered that the text of the Law started its procedures in the summer of 2019. In December of that year, it was first put forward for public scrutiny when anyone interested could make suggestions on its contents. Public participation was considerable.

In June 2021, there had been a consolidated edition, which had been put forward for public scrutiny for a second time, where concrete contributions could be presented to add to it. It should also be noted that there have been at least four meetings of the Social Council of the Reserve, that bring together representatives of the town Councils, the Balearic Government and the State Government, as well as entities, professionals and impresarios, where the draft law was discussed.

Despite all these opportunities, it is surprising that the reports arrived at the last minute.

The other matter, of even more importance, is that reports are never made on questions of competence before a proposed law. It ought to be clear that the Consell Plenary Session does not approve a law only a proposal and it ought to be Parliament that, in any case, converts it into a law after the corresponding procedures are followed.

In the first place, there has been plenty of time to negotiate between institutions. In the second place, any proposed law is processed in Parliament,

legal considerations are contributed with corresponding content, and once it is approved then competency discrepancies can be added.

Many laws approved in regional parliaments are subject to dispute by the so called bilateral commissions of the Ministry and the Autonomous Community and where, in the absence of agreement, the Constitutional Court can substantiate it. But this never happens, as is being done with that of the Reserve of the Biosphere of Menorca, when the text of the Law is only a proposal.

The Bill includes important issues such as water resources, coastal seawater, the possibility of limiting the influx of motor vehicles, the island’s decarbonisation strategy, air quality, environmental criteria for public recruitment, the management of forestry areas and biodiversity and much else.

In terms of sustainability, it is not happening fast enough.  It is going much slower than it should be. Curbing the processing of instruments as important as the Law for the Reserve of the Biosphere ought to have a transparent and justifiable explanation.  The responsibility of the Menorcan institutions is that that they go ahead with real content.

What was supposed to be a date for celebration is now a crisis date. Let us ask the Consell Insular to solve the created situation and to be on top of the needs of the current society.