Thursday

24th May 2018

Opinion

Would an independent Catalonia remain in the EU?

  • The EU treaties are silent on internal secession (Photo: SBA73)

On 11 September 2013, 2 million Catalan citizens reached out forming a human chain over 400 kilometres long.

This impressive demonstration, known as “Catalan Way to Independence,” showed, once again, that a huge majority of the Catalan people (around 80 percent according to the polls) wants to exercise the right to decide on their own future as a nation, and that a majority would choose independence (around 55 percent, excluding those still undecided).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

But so far Spain is not allowing this democratic choice to take place.

Meanwhile, on EU membership, many contradictory statements are being made on how Europe can or should respond to emerging new states within its very borders.

Some days after the National Day and huge civic demonstration, the Spanish member of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia, declared – other commissioners followed suit - that an independent Catalonia would automatically remain outside the EU and would need to go through a complex negotiation and accession process in order to be part of the EU again.

Ironically enough, the same commissioner said exactly the opposite one year ago, before Spanish diplomatic pressure started.

Here are some points to clarify the issue.

1) EU treaties are silent on what happens when a part of a member state becomes independent. The possibility of internal enlargement, that is, an enlargement of the EU with new states resulting from self-determination processes within current EU member states, is neither explicitly rejected nor explicitly foreseen by the treaties. So all statements by the EU institutions and their representatives are political in nature and not juridical.

2) In previous unforeseen situations the EU has adopted common sense solutions based on negotiation and agreement. It was pragmatic when East Germany merged with West Germany or when Greenland chose to leave the EU despite being part of a member state (Denmark). There is no reason why the EU will not be pragmatic with Catalonia.

3) Catalonia meets all requirements and criteria to remain in the EU and has been applying EU legislation for a long time, so Catalonia would not have to go through a full accession process. For sure, concrete matters must be renegotiated, such as quotas for representation in the EU institutions or Catalonia's contribution to the budget, but this negotiation should be short and unproblematic and does not have to be conducted from a status of non-membership. Moreover, all Catalan citizens acquired certain rights and freedoms through their European citizenship. Rights cannot be taken away so easily, particularly when citizens democratically decide to leave a member state but not the EU.

4) Democracy is a fundamental principle enshrined in the European Treaties. The EU is committed to the promotion of democracy within the Union and around the globe. The EU cannot and should not punish Catalans just for exercising this basic principle.

5) It is within the economic interests of the EU and of its member states – including Spain - to have an independent Catalonia within the EU. Member states, in defence of their citizens and companies' interests, will be keen to see Catalonia remaining within the EU. Will the EU really let go of a south European country that has great commercial potential, a strategic location, and is a net contributor to EU coffers? In times of economic hardship, are we really going to exclude parts of Europe and risk de-solidarising the European integration project?

The Spanish government believes it can cast fear and doubt among Catalan people by arguing that an independent state would see it outside the EU and isolated from the international community. But its argument is not based on solid ground.

The writer is secretary general of the European Free Alliance party

Madrid vows to block Catalonia referendum

The Spanish government has vowed to block Catalonia from holding an independence referendum, with EU Council chief Van Rompuy renewing the warning that the region would no longer be part of the EU if it split off.

Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny

Most refugee-related services are outsourced to the private sector and NGOs, which are not adequately monitored and evaluated. When governments and EU institutions provide funding for refugee projects, they should scrutinise the NGOs and private players they work with.

Europe's last wild rivers under threat at Balkans summit

The EU is prioritising motorways and gas pipelines across the potential accession Western Balkan countries, plus hydropower energy projects which threaten one of the world's freshwater biodiversity hotspots.

More commitment to renewables from Council, please

More and more consumers are likely to invest in solar panels in the future as it becomes simpler to produce one's own electricity, writes Monique Goyens, director general of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation.

News in Brief

  1. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  2. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  3. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  4. UK households hit with Brexit income loss
  5. Report: EU faces 10% cut in steel exports to US
  6. Australia wants more access to EU agricultural market
  7. CV of Italian PM candidate under scrutiny
  8. Puigdemont Spain extradition rejected by German court

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. GDPR does not (yet) give right to global oblivion
  2. Privacy Shield less relevant given GDPR, says data chief
  3. Unknown academic to lead Italy into EU clash
  4. 'Killer robot' projects eligible for EU defence fund
  5. Funding for European values needs radical changes
  6. Feeble EU format deflates Zuckerberg 'hearing'
  7. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  8. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  2. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  5. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  7. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  8. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight