CATALONIA’S foreign affairs secretary has confirmed that the pro-independence Spanish state will open three new government delegations in this term of office.

Jordi Solé said the one planned for neighbouring Portugal would be up and running within months. Arrangements for others in the Vatican City and Morocco are still being worked on by the Catalan Government.

The Catalans are already represented in the UK (including Ireland), Germany, Italy, Austria, France (also covers Switzerland), Brussels and the US, which also covers Canada and Mexico.

Even so, the Spanish Constitutional Court has already appealed against the new delegations, which it said was against Catalonia’s competencies.

The impasse is a demonstration of continuing hostility between the Spanish and Catalan administrations since the latter became controlled by the pro-independence politicians late last year. Solé insisted on the institutions playing a key role in Catalonia’s foreign affairs strategy and stressed his Government’s will to “continue deploying Catalonia’s institutional representation in the world”.

He said: “We are looking for the right place, moment and sequence, and the Government will continue to deploy Catalonia’s institutional representation in the world.”

Solé, a close confidante of Raül Romeva, the Catalan foreign affairs minister, said the Government had to reinforce the existing delegations whose task was “indispensable for both the government and the country”.

“One of these, Lisbon’s, will be in full operation within its own space in the following months,” said Solé, adding that it already had “a delegate who acts as such” and all that had to be done was “open the headquarters”.

Delegates had not yet been nominated for Vatican City or Morocco, he said.

Solé added: “The government is studying how to proceed on these two delegations.”

Catalonia’s decision to establish the delegations added to the controversy surrounding the creation of the state’s new Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which was heralded soon after Catalan President Carles Puigdemont took office.

The Spanish Government has virtually neutered Catalonia, refusing it leave to spend money on anything it has not approved. It has also claimed the new ministry is “illegal” and has taken it to court over its creation and capabilities.

Acting Spanish vice president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, said the new department exceeded its competencies in foreign issues as specified in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy. It had also claimed competencies which belonged “exclusively” to the Spanish state.

She added that the ministry led by Romeva, a former MEP, developed a foreign affairs policy for the Catalan government, which was also subject to a constitutional court appeal.

The court eventually suspended the department, but Romeva responded by announcing that it would change its name as a “preventative measure”.

“We have made this decision in order not to stop,” said Romeva, insisting that “neither the functions nor the responsibilities” of the department had changed.

Puigdemont added: “Nobody will be able to stop Catalonia’s international projection, as its world is the world.”