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Norwegian and Catalan experts discuss Catalonia’s right to self-determination at Oslo University

On Thursday Universitetet i Oslo (UiO) hosted a round table debate with Norwegian and Catalan academics, journalists and economists to discuss the economic viability of an independent Catalonia and how it would fit into the European framework, whether in the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). This debate was part of the conference 'Self-Determination Processes in the EU: the case of Catalonia', organised by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) together with the University of Oslo. The Diplocat – an organisation backed by the Catalan Government, universities, business associations, trade unions, FC Barcelona and other public and private institutions – is organising a series of debates in European and Spanish universities on Catalonia's self-determination demands.

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24 April 2014 10:23 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- On Thursday Universitetet i Oslo Oslo (UiO) hosted a round table debate with Norwegian and Catalan academics, journalists and economists to discuss the economic viability of an independent Catalonia and how it would fit into the European framework, whether in the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA). This debate was part of the conference 'Self-Determination Processes in the EU: the case of Catalonia', organised by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) together with the University of Oslo. The Diplocat – an organisation backed by the Catalan Government, the four Provincial Councils, universities, chambers of commerce, the main business-owner associations, trade unions, FC Barcelona and other public and private institutions from Catalonia – is organising a series of debates in European and Spanish universities on Catalonia's self-determination demands. Founded in 1811, the University of Oslo is the oldest university in Norway and a leader in the field of research and education.


Thursday's conference day in Norway was opened by Benedicte Bull, from the Centre for Development and the Environment (SUM) at UiO, and Albert Royo, Secretary General of the Diplocat. Royo thanked the University of Oslo for holding this conference in Norway, which he characterised as an open-minded country committed to the values of peace and democracy. A country, he added, “which also held a self-determination referendum, in 1905.”

The conference continued with the participation of Øyvind Østerud, Professor at the Department of Political Science at UiO, and Vicent Partal, Journalist and Editor of the Vilaweb news portal, who explained recent events in the Catalan self-determination process from Norwegian and Catalan points of view. Østerudcompared the cases of Catalonia and Scotland and made his bet that the Spanish Government will end up accepting the referendum in Catalonia, as “the right arguments are those of dignity and democracy”. Partal also referred to the UK and pointed out that while the constitutions of neither the UK nor Canada allow independence, both governments did understand that there was a political problem and looked for a solution through dialogue. He also said that Catalans are ready to discuss and negotiate about everything except the right to vote, and firmly denied the existence of an ethno-linguistic split in Catalonia.

Self-determination processes within the EU

The second round table debate dealt with the question of self-determination processes within the EU. Chris Lord, Professor at the ARENA Centre for European Studies at UiO, and Ivan Serrano, Researcher in Secession and Creation of New States at the IN3-UOC research centre of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) took part. Lord claimed that "consensual continuity of both Catalonia and Spain in the EU is in the interest of everybody, as there are huge economic interests involved” and mentioned the weakness of the Spanish banking system. According to him, an independent Scotland could cause a precedent in the EU for consensual continuity of both states. Serrano stated that international law does not give a clear regulation of unilateral secession, “which is the last option when no other solutions are given”. In his opinion, from a normative point of view, a democratic state should allow the possibility of discussing this kind of issue.

Finally, the last round table discussed the implications of these political processes for small and medium-sized economies, and their viability in Europe, within the EU or the EFTA. The participants included Jaume Ventura, Professor at Barcelona's Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (GSE) as well as Senior Researcher at CREI (UPF's Research Centre in International Economy), who placed  the Scottish and Catalan political processes within the global economy. He also explained the economic viability of medium-sized economies with a foreseeable role in the EU or EFTA. Another speaker was Øivind Bratberg, Post-Doctorate at the Department of Political Science at UiO, who talked about the Scottish case. The third speaker was Xavier Cuadras, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Businesses and Economy at Pompeu Fabra University and Director of the Escola Superior de Comerç Internacional (ESCI-UPF), who remarked that an independent Catalonia would be completely viable from an economic point of view.

Diplocat is organising a series of debates in prestigious European universities

This conference forms part of the series of conferences on Catalonia’s “right to decide” or right to self-determination organised by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia in prestigious European universities. The first event was held at Sciences Po Paris in June 2013, followed by subsequent events in London, Seville, Uppsala (Sweden), Toulouse (France), Lisbon, Utrecht, and Santiago de Compostela. Future conferences are planned for Berlin and Geneva.

The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia is a public-private body whose objective is to put Catalonia on the world stage, explaining its situation and informing international public opinion so as to strengthen Catalonia’s image and prestige abroad, whilst building links and relationships between Catalonia’s citizens and institutions and those of other countries. It is backed by the Catalan Government, the four Provincial Councils, universities, chambers of commerce, the main business-owner associations, main trade unions, FC Barcelona and other public and private institutions from Catalonia.

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  • An image of the debate held on Thursday at the University of Oslo (by Diplocat)

  • An image of the debate held on Thursday at the University of Oslo (by Diplocat)