eu membership

“The Europe of integration” would end if the EU expels an independent Catalonia, states the Catalan Government

February 25, 2014 03:01 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Spokesperson for the Executive, Francesc Homs, warned that “if a political solution cannot be reached” to keep Catalonia within the EU if it becomes independent from Spain, it would be “the end of Europe as a model for democratic and peaceful integration of the different peoples that form it”. On Monday, in a debate on ‘Catalonia’s political process’ held at the University of Lisbon’s Faculty of Law, Homs highlighted the fact that if EU Treaties had been interpreted “literally”, the financial bailouts for Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece would not have been possible. However, in this case, the EU reacted “with common sense” and for “the general interest”. Therefore, “since the EU is a project of peace and democracy, a political solution [for Catalonia] will be found, as the EU has ever done in all situations”, he stated.

The European Commission asks for dialogue to keep Catalonia within Spain

February 24, 2014 09:10 PM | ACN

The Spanish Government replies that dialogue can only take place “within the law” and respecting “the national sovereignty”, “two red-lines” that cannot be questioned. The Catalan Government said the Commission should consider Catalonia as “a very good ally to build Europe’s future”. The day before, in Barcelona, Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, had asked the Spanish and Catalan authorities “to talk” with “an open attitude” and “without red-lines” in order to remain “united”. The European Commission broke its supposed neutrality in the political conflict regarding Catalonia’s future within Spain, despite it officially considers the issue to be Spain’s internal affair. The Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights acknowledged “to understand” the Catalan claims, but she refused to say whether citizens should be allowed to hold a self-determination vote. However, she stated that if independence was declared, Catalonia would no longer be part of the EU.

‘The Economist’: “it is wrong to insinuate” that Scotland and Catalonia “could never join the EU”

February 21, 2014 07:17 PM | ACN

The prestigious publication reacted to the speculations on the inclusion of independent Catalonia and Scotland in the EU. “It is wrong to insinuate that newly independent states could never join the EU”, stated ‘The Economist’ in its latest edition. However, the British magazine also stressed that these two cases have no precedents in Europe and therefore warned that it would be “dishonest to pretend that accession would be quick or easy” for the two nations. Indeed, according to the EU officials quoted in the article, “it would take at least four to five years to negotiate and ratify” Catalonia and Scotland’s EU full-right membership. ‘The Economist’ also scolds the President of the European Commission for having compared the “peaceful referendums in western Europe” to the “violent break-up of a Balkan country”.

Spanish Parliament “strongly rejects” Catalonia’s “secessionist plan” with the PP, PSOE and UPyD votes

February 20, 2014 01:32 PM | ACN

The Spanish nationalist party UPyD (Unión, Progreso y Democracia) has managed its motion against Catalonia’s self-determination to get the support of the governing People’s Party (PP) and the main opposition group, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE). The rest of the parties in the Spanish Parliament have opposed the initiative presented by the group led by Rosa Díez, who asked a few months ago to cancel Catalonia’s autonomy and self-government institutions. UPyD’s motion has been approved with 272 ‘yes’ votes, 43 ‘no’ ballots and 1 abstention. The text states that the Spanish Parliament “explicitly and strongly rejects the secessionist plan of the Catalan Government”, mentioning two resolutions approved in 2013 by the Catalan Parliament. In addition, it asks the Spanish Government to “continue using all the tools foreseen in the Constitution and in the whole of the legal framework to guarantee the rule of law”.

National Alliance for Self-Determination agrees to focus on ensuring that Catalans can vote

February 19, 2014 10:09 PM | ACN

The second meeting of the so-called National Alliance for the Right to Self-Determination of Catalonia (Pacte Nacional pel Dret a Decidir) has agreed to focus their efforts on making it possible for Catalans to vote on their own collective future. More than 1,500 organisations are part of this Alliance, including institutions, political parties, trade unions, business organisations, professional associations, NGOs, cultural organisations and political pressure groups. Not all the participating organisations back independence from Spain, but they all fully support Catalonia’s right to decide on its future as nation. In the last few months, many organisations have joined the Alliance, which had its first meeting in June. On Wednesday they analysed the current situation and have agreed to campaign for the right to hold a free and democratic self-determination vote, putting specific ideologies aside.

“We won’t do anything that may leave us out of Europe”, stated Catalan Finance Minister

February 19, 2014 08:03 PM | ACN

The Catalan Minister for the Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell, emphatically stated that if it is “neat, the conflict between Catalonia and Spain will not affect the economy” nor business activity. In front of about 250 employers who were invited at a luncheon organised by Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, Mas-Colell explained that “Catalonia had emerged stronger” from the economic crisis. The former Economics Professor in Harvard and Berkley also emphasised that the Catalan Government “will not do anything that may leave [Catalans] out of Europe”, thereby sending “reassuring” messages to business-owners. In his speech, the Finance Minister also defended the ongoing self-determination process, describing it as an attempt to respond to the Spanish Government’s centralist policy which is looking to “laminate” Catalonia’s Autonomy “using the crisis as an excuse”.

Financial Times’ international editor criticises Spain’s stands on Catalonia’s separatism “in democratic Europe”

February 18, 2014 08:14 PM | ACN

In an article published on Tuesday in the prestigious ‘Financial Times’, the newspaper’s chief foreign affairs commentator, Gideon Rachman, deplored Madrid’s attitude towards Catalan independence claims, opposing it to the “peaceful” and “consensual” Scottish referendum process enabled by the British Government. The journalist underlined that “there are remarkably few examples of nations breaking up in a civilised way”, mentioning China’s relations with Taiwan, or Turkey’s attitude towards Kurdistan. “Even in democratic Europe, Spain is refusing to contemplate the idea of an independence referendum for Catalonia”, he added. London’s attitude regarding the Scottish case, on the other hand, should be viewed as “a model” for other separatist cases, recognising the UK as a union of nations and stressing the people’s right to decide.

Judges say that Catalonia’s self-determination fits within the Spanish Constitution

February 14, 2014 03:33 PM | ACN

33 Catalan judges have signed a manifesto supporting Catalonia’s right to self-determination. The judges emphasise that such a right fits into the current constitutional framework and is in line with international law. Some of the signatories work in provincial High Courts and have been members of the body governing judicial power in Spain (CGPJ). It is the first time that Spanish State civil servants have made such a clear statement supporting the right of the Catalan people to decide freely on their collective future and their relation to Spain. Judicial power in Spain is totally centralised and has a deep centralist tradition. According to these law experts, “Catalonia is a nation”, “without discussion”, and therefore has “full sovereignty to decide on its own future”.

“The Catalan Government is older than the Spanish Constitution”, Mas replies to García-Margallo

February 13, 2014 10:01 PM | ACN

The Catalan Executive, chaired by Artur Mas, has published a 50-page memorandum in reply to the report issued by the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, in late December against Catalan independence. Margallo’s document claimed that independence was “immoral” and “not a democratic option”. The 200-page report was distributed to all Spain’s embassies as a list of arguments to be used to lobby against Catalan independence at international level. The memo was written in a condescending tone and included many judgemental opinions, half-truths, partial quotes and even lies. One of them was that Catalonia recovered its self-government institutions thanks to the Constitution, which is false. The Catalan Government has replied with its own memo and has asked the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry to distribute it to all the embassies as well.

Barcelona Chamber of Commerce President: Catalonia’s economy works better than Spain’s

February 13, 2014 08:01 PM | ACN

The President of Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Miquel Valls, stated on Thursday that the independence process was not affecting Catalonia’s economic recovery. During a press conference, Valls emphasised that such a statement was based on concrete “facts”. He stressed that Catalonia had tripled the amount of incoming foreign investment compared to the Spanish average, and that the Catalan economy had also registered better figures in enterprise creation and business confidence, employment and other indicators showing an economic recovery According to the report on conjecture and economic perspectives, the Catalan GDP grew by 0.7% during the fourth quarter of 2013, whereas the Spanish GDP dropped by 0.1%. Valls also recalled that the consultation vote on the political future of Catalonia would involve “citizens and not businesses”, thus responding to the employers who recently voiced their opposition to Catalonia’s independence.

BASF distance themselves from the German employers’ manifesto against independence

February 13, 2014 07:44 PM | ACN

The German multinational BASF distanced themselves from the manifesto issued on Tuesday by 60 German businesspeople, including BASF CEO in Spain, against Catalan independence. BASF stated that they “will is to continue [their] activities in Catalonia”, as “proven” by their “more than €30 million investment” made in 2013. The manifesto against independence stated it would have “dreadful consequences” on the Catalan economy. BASF replied they “did not intend to influence or intervene in political debates”, adding that they “respect the laws of the countries in which [they] operate”. The German company “deeply” lamented, along with its CEO Erwin Rauhe, that the company’s name had been used in the presentation of the manifesto against independence, called ‘Declaration of Barcelona’.

Self-determination process is not affecting Catalonia’s economy, states Catalan President

February 12, 2014 07:45 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, was responding to the recent concerns raised by the President of Spain’s main employers’ association CEOE and by a group of 60 German businesspeople. Mas praised the “strength” of Catalonia’s economy, being “the most dynamic in southern Europe”. He stressed that Catalonia is leading the attraction of foreign investment in the whole of southern Europe. Furthermore, in the first 6 weeks of the current year, German companies have already announced €131 million of direct investment in Catalonia. Spanish nationalist parties have stated that the self-determination claims create instability and companies do not like this. Mas replied that Catalonia “has already tried out absolutely everything [to better fit within Spain] and the answer has always been the same: ‘no, no and no, and ten thousand times no’”.

German employers warn against Catalan independence’s “dreadful consequences”

February 11, 2014 09:27 PM | ACN

Around 60 German businesspeople working in Catalonia have issued a manifesto against independence from Spain. They warn against “the dreadful consequences” that independence would bring for the Catalan economy. The manifesto signers, who work in companies that invested millions in Catalonia and in the rest of Spain, state that independence would represent the automatic expulsion from the European Union. They also add that “it is doubtful” it could still use the Euro. Furthermore, they “warn about the dangers of a nationalist fervour, which in the last century, has brought immeasurable suffering to Europe and which will neither bring anything good to Catalonia”. Besides, on the same day, the President of Spain’s main employer association, Juan Rosell, stated that independence would be “disastrous” for human relations. The Catalan Government respects their opinion but has refused to comment on the manifesto.

63% to back independence if Catalonia does not have greater self-government within Spain

February 10, 2014 07:37 PM | ACN

The Catalan Centre for Polling (CEO), linked to the Catalan Government, published “an experimental poll” based on 1,830 interviews on 10 different future scenarios, such as an independent Catalonia within the European Union, an independent Catalonia being expelled from the EU and independence bringing a positive economic impact. In the event that the Spanish Government insists in not changing anything regarding the current relationship between Catalonia and Spain, 62.7% of Catalans would vote “yes” in an independence referendum while 22.5% would oppose it and 7.8% would abstain. It is the highest-ever support to independence registered in an opinion poll. On the other hand, if the EU automatically expelled Catalonia if its citizens were to vote for independence, 45.4% would still vote “yes”, 37.6% would vote “no” and 12.7% would abstain. For all scenarios independence is the clear winner.

Financial Times: Spain could “consider” Scotland’s EU admission if independence process is “legal”

February 3, 2014 08:16 PM | ACN

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, said that Spain could “consider” the admission of an independent Scotland within the EU. In a front-page article published this Monday in the Financial Times, Margallo argued that if the Scottish people gained independence through a “legal” process, Spain would not interfere. However, the Minister warned that the Scots would have to “join the waiting line and ask for admission” to enter the EU. The article underlined that “Margallo’s nuanced stance towards Scotland stood in marked contrast to his uncompromising rhetoric on Catalonia”, “two fundamentally different” cases according to him. The President of the Catalan People’s Party – Margallo’s party - reacted to the interview and stated that his words had been misinterpreted: Spain would assess Scotland’s admission but would not approve it.