MADRID — The Spanish government says it has lifted financial controls over the northeastern Catalonia region as a goodwill gesture before new administrations in Madrid and Barcelona sit down for talks.

Central authorities had been supervising Catalan finances since 2015 to ensure no public money was funding illegal pro-independence activities. Under additional controls last year, Madrid's stamp of approval was required for every payment.

Government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa says Friday's decision is "a gesture of political normalization" as the new socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, seeks to establish dialogue with a new Catalan regional government.

Celaa, who oversees education in the female-dominated 17-strong cabinet, has warned that the talks won't touch on self-determination and that Sanchez will use "Spain's constitution in one hand and dialogue on the other one" to address the independence push.