Monday

19th Nov 2018

Catalan region renews call for independence

  • Catalan flags and a few EU flags on the Catalan national day – La Diada - in Barcelona (Photo: Olinta Lopez Rafel)

One and a half million people gathered in Barcelona on Tuesday (11 September) demanding independence from Spain. It was the biggest self-rule rally ever in Catalonia.

Under the slogan "Catalonia, a new state in Europe," people from across the region, from all social classes and of all ages met in central Barcelona swaying Catalan flags and a few EU flags on the Catalan national day - La Diada.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The current economic climate, with deep cuts in public spending and soaring unemployment, has increased the Catalan sentiment for sovereignty, especially over their own economic affairs but also for independence from Spain.

Catalonia is one of Spain's richest regions.

"Yesterday's clamour was very clear and natural: that of a nation that wants to progress and calls for a state to continue to exist," said the president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, in a press conference on Wednesday morning.

He said the most important challenge for Catalonia at the moment is financial sovereignty, but added: "If we do not reach a financial agreement [with Madrid] then the road to Catalan independence is open."

Barcelona is currently negotiating a fiscal pact with Madrid seeking a similar level of financial autonomy as the Basque region in Northern Spain, which would give the Catalan government the right to collect its own taxes.

Mas' comment on independence is a strong warning to Madrid considering that his political coalition of Convergència i Unio – a centre-right and nationalist alliance – traditionally favours Catalonia as a nation within Spain while fighting for financial autonomy.

Catalans have long complained that while the Catalan region is one of the biggest contributors to the Spanish budget, they get much less back in funding for services and public works.

The deficit lies at around at €15 billion, according to the Catalan government. The Catalan president will meet with Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy next week to discuss the issue.

The fight with the Spanish government over financial autonomy will be a tough one though.

Last month, Catalonia asked for a €5 billion loan from Spain's rescue fund for financially troubled regions and Rajoy's government has implied that such a loan will come only with increased central control.

The European Commission has refused to comment on the increased call for independence from a European region.

It said such questions are an internal matter for each member state and that "the commission is not able to speculate on any potential consequences this may have on EU law."

Catalans stage symbolic independence vote

Inhabitants of the Spanish region of Catalonia turned out to vote in a symbolic referendum on independence on Sunday, a headache for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero two weeks before his country takes over the EU's rotating presidency.

Spain in wait-and-see mode as recession worsens

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday said his government has not yet taken a decision on asking for European help in refinancing its debt, pending a key meeting of the European Central Bank next week.

Magazine

Regions feel the pinch

Looking to save a buck in every corner of the budget, EU countries are now pointing their arrows at subnational governments, a new study has found. Subsidies are down, as is the number of municipalities.

All eyes on Catalan election

Catalans will cast their vote for a new regional assembly on Sunday in an election that could have considerable consequences for Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

News in Brief

  1. Germany and France agree eurozone budget framework
  2. Austrian foreign minister: EU's Israel policy 'too strict'
  3. Soros and Kurz discuss Central European University move
  4. EU set to tighten rules on foreign strategic investment
  5. Macron repeats call for unified Europe in Bundestag speech
  6. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  7. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  8. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down

Opinion

Dodgy regime lobbying is below the EU's radar

In Brussels, PR professionals and lobbying consultants are working for some of the world's most autocratic regimes. And we have no way of knowing for sure who they are, how much they are paid, or what they are up to.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  2. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine
  3. EU must recognise new force for Balkans destabilisation
  4. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  5. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  6. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  7. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  8. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us