'Any veto on the Catalan economy would go against Spain's own interest' says MEP Tremosa
Former president Artur Mas, MEP Ramon Tremosa and Princeton political science professor Carles Boix discuss the October 1 vote in English ‘to inform Catalonia’s community of foreigners’
Princeton professor, Carles Boix, was just one of a number of leading figures taking part in a debate, in English, on Catalonia’s referendum on Friday in Barcelona, at which he claimed the intended “flexibility of the Constitution” had been “misappropriated” by the Spanish government. According to Boix, the Constitution contains a variety of mechanisms for holding referendums, and believes that Spain’s magna carta does not allow for such votes to be false and politically motivated. Giving the example of Canada, whose Constitution does not foresee any vote on self-determination, Boix pointed out that a solution allowing Quebec to vote on its political future was nevertheless found. The professor also reminded the audience that international law neither forbids nor regulates the right to self-determination, except in some previously agreed cases in the United Nations.
Meanwhile, Ramon Tremosa, MEP in the liberal democrat ALDE group in the European Parliament, pointed out that the Catalan independence movement has been innovative in its strategy and has succeeded in a difficult aim: channelling peaceful but consistent public pressure through political parties, and communicating these major democratic concerns of citizens to the Catalan Parliament and different institutions.
In this context, he mentioned former president Artur Mas’ early perception of the need to channel this movement by calling early elections in 2012, where a majority turnout voted in favor of independence. Tremosa went on to point out that “there have been six elections in the past five years in Spain and in Catalonia, and in all of them the turnout was very high, with gains for the proindependence and proreferendum forces.” According to Tremosa, “this is what foreign politicians look at” and what “brings admiration”.
“Any veto would affect the 7.000 multinationals in Catalonia. So this, in a hypothetical case, will not happen; many European governments and also the US would put a lot of pressure on the Spanish government”
Ramon Tremosa · Member of the European Parliament in the liberal ALDE group
Asked about a possible expulsion of Catalonia from the European Union, Tremosa took the example of the Brexit referendum, in which more than 17 million voted in favor of leaving, yet there will likely be a transitional period of 10 years before the country officially exits the EU, because realpolitik prevails. He also pointed out that the many multinational companies attracted to Catalonia make it more difficult for the country to be expelled from the EU: “Any veto would affect the 7.000 multinationals in Catalonia. So this, in a hypothetical case, will not happen; many European governments and also the US would put a lot of pressure on the Spanish government.”
He concluded by adding that expulsion would naturally mean that Spain would also suffer, as there is a great deal of manufacturing exchange with Catalonia, meaning any veto or hindering of the economic sector would also go against Spain’s own interests.
Similarly, Boix insisted that the narrative of fear against the viability of a Catalan state was nonsense. “Catalonia’s political and economic viability is not in question,” he said. The professor also said that the majority of states in the world have less than six million people: “In Europe, small countries are successful at combining competitiveness with good mechanisms to hold together the population. The big countries that are successful are strongly federalized, such as Germany. This points to Catalonia being completely viable,” he said.
“You cannot have your cake and eat it. This also goes for Spain: you cannot threaten expulsion and non-recognition, because first you have to recognize Catalonia in order to demand expulsion. Those are just not credible threats,” the expert added.
However, MEP Tremosa made it clear that reasonable reactions from the EU will come slowly, and that the Catalan government’s first step is to show on October 2 its capacity to implement a new situation and show it is capable of functioning as a state.
The event was closed with a speech by former Catalan President Artur Mas, who said that he was convinced this independence movement will end well, and as peacefully as it started.
Mas also showed his complete confidence in the current Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, as well as his decision to reshuffle his ministers. “The decisions that are being made are mature and clearly aimed at the October 1 vote,” he said. The former president also said that he knows all the outgoing ministers personally and thanked them for their service. “I know they have defended their stance honestly and strongly as far as their personal situation could allow and I am sure all of them will vote ‘Yes’,” he said.
Mas finished by making a call for unity among politicians and society and for support for “those who are now openly facing the situation of representing others to make sure they get to October 1, not only alive, but with strength.”
The event was organized by PDeCat, the liberal party in the pro-independence coalition Together for the Yes (Junts pel Sí) in the Catalan Parliament, within the framework of its campaign "Yes for a better country".