Ángel Llanos Castro


Este trabajo analiza, desde la Ciencia Política y de la Administración, el singular tratamiento económico y fiscal de Canarias, el diseño de sus herramientas desde cada ámbito político, su justificación y la teoría política que lo sostiene. El gobierno multinivel canario indica que sus especificidades electorales no han sido obstáculos para ampliar estas medidas surgidas de su Régimen Económico y Fiscal. Las conclusiones demuestran el fin de cuarenta años de consenso sociopolítico sobre la necesidad de este trato singular, al incorporarse el concepto de paraíso fiscal; así como la consolidación en las islas del suelo más valioso de Europa fiscalmente.


The particularities of the Canary Islands have been studied from different areas of knowledge. But this research, in addition to showing these singularities, politologically delves into the role of the actors participating in these transversal policies, identifying the effects of their actions in a comparative perspective. The decisions that in economic and fiscal matters have generated differences in the reality of the Canary Islands compared to the rest of Spain, are not an isolated element of political action, but are part of the balance that surrounds the character of its multilevel government, with five territorial levels of public management that act simultaneously. Therefore, the explanation of the action carried out requires selecting the public policies that best define it, as well as analyzing the balance of power that has taken place and the role played by political and social actors, specifying the effects of the decisions taken and investigating its specific variables.


The development of self-government in the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands since the approval of the Spanish Constitution, within the process of decentralization of powers of the State of Autonomies, has been characterized by a gradual accumulation of legislative and governmental measures from all territorial areas of the Administration, which have placed the islands - especially since the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of the Canary Islands in 1982 - as a territory with great advantages over the other sixteen autonomous communities.


In this process, the European Union has been key, protecting the advantageous tools of the region. And this has been the case because the Canary Islands, together with the French overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion, the French overseas community of Saint Martin and the Portuguese autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira, are the Community territories considered Outermost Regions (ORs) of the EU due to their special geographical difficulties.


But this administrative mobilization generates two visions in the political debate:


a)    The official one, which considers this action by the State apparatus necessary to guarantee the development of the archipelago in identical conditions to the rest of the country.

b)    The unofficial one, which values that these measures have turned the Canary Islands into a tax haven hidden by its high unemployment rate. In addition, some estimates place the endowment of the Reserve for Investments in the Canary Islands (one of its most important tools) at 20,000 million euros of business profits that have not paid taxes.


On the other hand, in all the regional elections held since 1982, no political party has obtained an absolute majority in the Parliament of the Canary Islands, so it has been necessary to assess to what extent the influence of the political decisions adopted during more than three decades by different parties from five territorial spheres and by three public powers have designed a panorama of privilege or a framework of solidarity.


In addition, the political decisions to be studied require theoretical contextualization, using a theoretical framework that avoids an excess of data that prevents concrete conclusions, but without exceeding the synthesis so as not to distort the empirical analysis by introducing logical fallacies. Likewise, the quantitative data are complemented with qualitative contributions obtained from the actors involved, especially those responsible for the creation of the political agenda (agenda setting).


The analysis carried out has allowed to show what has been the cumulative design of the Canary Islands specificities carried out for almost forty years by the set of political parties that have been in charge of the executive and legislative powers, in all territorial areas: autonomous, national and European. Public powers that, on the contrary, viewed the community role with skepticism at the dawn of autonomy.


This differentiating situation - more unique than privileged - has been maintained over time, expanding a catalog of economic advantages that have not been politically criticized until 2015, when the Podemos party obtained its own group in the Parliament of the Canary Islands. Until that year, the actors justified the particular economic and fiscal development of the Canary Islands by the situation in which its inhabitants find themselves in comparison to the rest of the Spanish, given the characteristics that the archipelago shares with the other outermost regions and that place it in a disadvantageous position. But this new party has raised doubts by describing the scenario generated as a tax haven.


The identification and historical design of the fiscal and economic tools that the Canary Islands have different from those of the rest of the communities, shows that the objective of the public powers has been to simultaneously apply different measures that are compatible with each other, which has made it possible to multiply their results exponentially. to the harmonious development of the Islands, given the impact that these measures have on job creation. Although it is more accurate to say that about the containment of the growth of unemployment, given the high unemployment rate that still exists in the islands.


The possible extension of the economic and fiscal advantages of the Canary Islands, apparently has no limit other than the imagination of the legislator. During the 1972-2018 longitudinal scope in which these measures have been added one over the other, none of those that previously existed have been eliminated: some measures have not been replaced by others, but some measures have been added over others. or the scope of action of the existing ones has been expanded. Moreover, the second reform of the Statute of Autonomy of the Canary Islands expanded the economic and fiscal specificities of the archipelago, reaching the point of indicating to the Government of Spain what it would have to do with the future General State Budgets in relation to the Canary Islands. In addition, the limits of the anchoring of certain measures in the Economic and Fiscal Regime of the Canary Islands were also extended, so as not to have to negotiate them each year in the Budgets.


The political analysis carried out indicates that the electoral peculiarities of the Canary Islands, both in relation to the unbalanced distribution of the island's seats in its Parliament, as well as the configuration of the autonomous governments, have not been obstacles to the continuation of the expansion of economic and fiscal measures that have placed the region in its position of singularity.


On the other hand, the Economic and Fiscal Regime (REF) of the Canary Islands is the basic norm that has allowed to develop its most important benefits, having identified the foundations of the anchorage of the Canary Islands specificity in the Spanish regulatory framework, since the REF is guaranteed in the Third additional provision of the Spanish Constitution. In addition, the condition of the Outermost Region that protects its benefits was established in the Treaty of Amsterdam and was enshrined in community jurisprudence and by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, forcing the European institutions to respect this unique position and the possible comparative grievance with continental Europeans. And finally, the REF itself has grown with each reform of the Statute of Autonomy, with each Law and with each new regulation on this matter.


To assess the scope of this situation, it was enough to cite comparatively the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, which despite the depth of the pro-independence political conflict that has been taking place between it and the rest of the State, its specificities are not included in the Magna Carta, while those of the Canary Islands do. However, the research shows that the Basque and Navarrese economic concerts do compete with the intensity of the Canarian singularity, although in other types of public policies more focused on regional financing than on the direct economic activity of the private sector.


Finally, the identification made of the current design of the Canary Islands specificities shows a territory in which companies can pay less taxes and obtain more economic benefits than anywhere else in the European Union, where their local industry has special measures protection and in which indirect taxation is three times less than in the rest of Spain. Always, yes, with some compensation in charge of the companies that oblige them to collaborate by investing in the economic development of the Islands.

© Revista de estudios regionales 2014 Universidades Públicas de Andalucía