Saturday

20th Jan 2018

Catalans stage symbolic independence vote

Inhabitants of the Spanish region of Catalonia turned out to vote in a symbolic referendum on independence on Sunday (13 December), a headache for Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero just two weeks before his country takes over the EU's rotating presidency.

But a lower turnout than organisers had hoped for indicated the minority status of those seeking independence in the rich north eastern region - home to seven million people and whose capital is Barcelona.

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.

  • Separatist movements exist in several regions of Spain (Photo: European Commission)

The unofficial referendum was held in towns and municipalities containing roughly 15 percent of the region's population, with citizens who did turn out voting strongly in favour of independence.

Organisers hope the event could lead to a region-wide and official vote in the future, although this is unlikely any time soon say observers.

Spain is one of only a handful of EU member states not to have recognised the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo over a year ago.

Sunday's Catalan vote highlights Madrid's sensitivities on the subject, with the government preparing for a difficult juggling act between national and EU positions on independence issues.

Spanish officials are preparing to chair the majority of EU meetings in the first half of next year, under the EU's rotating six-month presidency.

The Basque and Galician regions in northwest Spain also have vocal independence movements, with the Basque paramilitary group ETA responsible for hundreds of deaths over the past few decades.

International observers from other world regions with independence or secessionist movements also attended Sunday's vote – including officials from Wales and the Belgian region of Flanders.

Relations with Madrid

With the region accounting for roughly 25 percent of Spain's GDP, Catalans are keen to keep the provisions contained within a statute on relations with the Spanish state approved in 2006.

The document gives the region more local decision making powers and what many believe is a fairer share of the taxes collected in the southern European country.

But Spain's centre-right opposition party is contesting the statute in the constitutional court, leading many Catalans to fear the key provisions could soon be overturned.

After the three-year legal tussle, an expected decision against the statute has already provoked a dozen Catalan newspapers to publish a joint editorial in defence of the region's "dignity."

Catalan region renews call for independence

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

Magazine

Decision day for EU agencies relocation race

EU ministers will decide on the future location of two London-based EU agencies on Monday. In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

Magazine

History of the agencies (re)shuffle

The history of how EU agency seats were established shows that political deal-making, not logic or objective criteria, is the decisive factor.

EU medicines agency reveals new home preferences

Staff said they preferred to move to Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan, or Vienna. More than 70% said they would quit if the agency moved to Athens, Bratislava, Bucharest, Helsinki, Malta, Sofia, Warsaw, or Zagreb.

Magazine

The EU Agencies Race

In this edition of EUobserver's Regions & Cities magazine, we take a closer look at some of the EU agencies, exploring how their location matters and the benefits for cities and regions to host them.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia