eu membership

‘Sciences Po’ Professor: “transition” solution needed so “Catalans are not excluded from the EU”

January 31, 2014 07:49 PM | ACN

A Professor at the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies (Science Po), Jean-Bernard Auby, has advocated for a temporary solution to keep Catalonia within the European Union if it reaches independence from Spain. This agreement should guarantee that Catalonia will not be excluded from the EU even if it does not immediately become a full-member. During a conference in Sciences Po Toulouse organised alongside the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), Auby insisted that “Catalonia and the Catalans are part of the EU” and for this reason, if they become independent “one shouldn’t, in a mechanical way, impose on them to go through the procedures we impose on those who are complete outsiders”. The conference ‘The right to self-determination of Catalonia. Legality and democratic legitimacy’ is part of a series of debates on the right to self-determination, organised by the Diplocat and scheduled in prestigious universities throughout Europe.

“An independent Catalonia should not pay” for Spain’s “odious debts”, says employer association

January 31, 2014 01:37 PM | ACN

The President of the employer’s association Cercle Català de Negocis (CCN), Albert Pont, stated that part of the Spanish Government’s debt is “odious” and therefore Catalonia cannot recognise this “illegitimate debt”. However, Pont underlined the “willingness” to pay for the proportionate share of the rest of the debt, which should be calculated “item by item”. In an exclusive interview with the CNA, he denounced a public debt generated “for the benefit of no more than a few companies” that “provide works, services and infrastructures” for the Spanish Government. “If Spain does not recognise the independence of Catalonia, Spain should assume its debt completely and the Catalan Government its own debt”, he warned. In addition, Pont denounced the fact that the Spanish Executive is taking away “between €16 billion and €18 billion” from Catalonia each year, a fiscal deficit amounting to “around 9%” of the Catalan GDP. “The IMF already established that fiscal deficits exceeding 4% of the GDP of a territory amounted to colonial relations”, he highlighted. Besides, he explained that “the average custom duty is between 1.4% and 1.5%”. However, Pont ruled out this possibility since a “political solution” will be reached to keep Catalonia within the EU.

Rajoy: it’s “impossible” to talk with Catalonia due to “unilateral decisions”

January 17, 2014 07:32 PM | ACN

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy also said that an independent Scotland would be “out of the European Union, the United Nations and all the applicable international treaties for being part of the UK”. Regarding the Catalan Parliament’s bill to formally request the transfer of the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Executive, based on Article 150.2 of the Constitution, Rajoy has categorically rejected the idea. He stated that his stance on Catalonia’s self-determination “is clear” and “does not include nuances”. In addition, Rajoy said that he is “always open to dialogue” but that “it is impossible to talk” with Catalonia because of “a continuous process of unilateral decisions”. Furthermore, the Deputy Prime Minister insisted that a self-determination vote “cannot take place” and “goes against the Constitution”.

French study backs EU membership of independent Catalonia and Scotland

January 9, 2014 07:31 PM | ACN

The former Chief of Staff of the French Minister for European Affairs and current member of the Conseil d’État, Yves Gounin, argues that the independence of Catalonia, Scotland or Flanders would not cause their immediate expulsion from the European Union but neither would it result in their automatic inclusion. Gounin states that a political negotiation should be undertaken; it would be “the most realistic” approach, he says. Therefore, according to this study published in the journal Politique Étrangère, independence and EU membership should be negotiated at the same time and therefore the implementation of EU Treaties would not be interrupted at any moment. Gounin underlines that there are legal and political arguments to defend that an independent Catalonia or Scotland would not be expelled from the EU. It is in “everybody’s” interest, he highlighted.

Barroso: “it is not the Commission’s role to express an opinion” on Catalonia

January 8, 2014 08:57 PM | ACN

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, has responded to the letter sent in December by Artur Mas, the President of the Catalan Government. Mas had informed Barroso and the leaders of the EU Member States about Catalonia’s self-determination process and the recent agreement to organise a consultation vote on the 9th of November. The Commission President “thanked” Mas for his letter and the information about “the latest political developments in Catalonia”. However, he rejected issuing further comments “on a question of internal organisation related to the constitutional arrangements in the Member States”. Furthermore, concerning Catalonia’s EU Membership, Barroso “recalls the position […] expressed on several occasions”.

“A transition agreement” can keep Catalonia within the EU, underlines the Catalan President

December 27, 2013 07:44 PM | ACN

In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, emphasised that an independent Catalonia would “want to remain” within the European Union. Mas highlighted the need to reach “a transition agreement” to ensure the uninterrupted continuity of an independent Catalonia within “the Eurozone, the EU, the Schengen Area and the NATO”. In addition, Mas insisted that, if the Spanish Government bans the self-determination referendum, he will have to call plebiscitary elections to give Catalans the opportunity to vote on their future. Besides, Mas announced he “will quit politics soon”; “at most” he will be in office for just “another term” to “push forward” Catalonia’s self-determination process.

EU states: “at this moment”, Catalonia’s vote is Spain’s “internal matter”

December 13, 2013 07:13 PM | ACN

The referendum in Catalonia was on everyone’s mind at this Friday’s European Commission press conference in Brussels. 20 minutes of the conference were devoted entirely to the Catalan issue. The EC Spokesperson Pia Ahrenkilde confirmed that Catalonia’s self-determination vote remained “an internal matter for Spain”. Ahrenkilde did not wish to stray away from the official EU stand on the issue, despite the persistence of Catalan, Spanish and foreign journalists. Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, also addressed the Catalan referendum issue this Friday. She explained that even though “it is true […] that the Spanish Constitution does not allow one region to break out”, she “hoped common sense imposes itself in Spain, in order to solve that problem”.

Commissioner Hahn on Catalonia's EU membership: “the question can be resolved in a more relaxed way”

October 8, 2013 10:50 PM | ACN

In an interview with the Catalan News Agency, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, the Austrian Johannes Hahn, nuanced previous statements made by other Commissioners and opened the door to debating Catalonia’s EU membership “in a more relaxed way”. Hahn “rejected” the idea that the Commission “is ignoring Catalonia’s independence movement”; “we are watching it carefully”, he said. On the question of automatic expulsion from the EU in the event of becoming independent, the Commissioner emphasised that “of course there is no provision in the Treaty and that’s why legal experts have the opinion that then Catalonia should ask for membership”. However he immediately added that “we should resolve this issue in a more relaxed way”, since “if there is independence, it would not happen from one day to the next”.

A Westminster report states that an independent Scotland would be EU Member State from first day

October 31, 2012 08:53 PM | CNA

The report, published by the British Parliament, has been drafted by a senior expert on the enlargement of the European Union, Honorary Director-General of the European Commission and Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre. The arguments in the document also apply to the Catalan case. The text states that “for practical and political reasons [Scottish people] could not be asked to leave the EU and apply for readmission” since “having been members of the EU for 40 years, [they] have acquired rights as European citizens”. The analysis concludes that “negotiations on the terms of membership would take place in the period between the referendum and the planned date of independence” and that “the EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations”.

The European Commission sends contradictory messages regarding hypothetical Catalan independence

October 30, 2012 11:07 PM | CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

Commissioners Reding and Almunia have publicly said that, if there were a unilateral declaration of independence, Catalonia would not be automatically expelled from the EU. However, after being put under pressure by the Spanish Government, Reding sent a private letter stating she shared Madrid’s analysis that a unilateral independence would lead to exclusion from the EU and having to re-apply for accession, which would require a unanimous vote among the 27 Member States. After Madrid’s complaints about previous statements, the EC stated that it would not give its opinion on the issue if the Spanish Government does not explicitly ask for it “on the basis of a precise scenario”. The Catalan Government has noted that there is not a precise scenario as yet. None of the main parties propose a unilateral declaration of independence.