joaquín almunia

Brussels main think tank CEPS "postpones" at the last minute a debate on Catalan independence

June 17, 2014 07:32 PM | ACN

The Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) stated it cancelled a debate on the EU Membership of an independent Catalonia because they could not find a speaker arguing that Catalonia would be excluded from the EU. However, the Catalan Government and the Catalan Public Diplomacy Council (Diplocat) suspect the Spanish Government pressured the CEPS to cancel the debate, as it already tried to do with previous events. The Spanish Executive denied the accusations, which are also rejected by the CEPS. The event was organised weeks ago and was supposed to take place on Tuesday at 9.30am at the CEPS facilities, which is the most prestigious think tank in EU Affairs. It was "postponed" on Monday evening, just a few hours before it was due to start. A prestigious Constitutional expert, who advises the Catalan Government, Carles Viver i Pi-Sunyer, was supposed to present a report arguing that Catalonia would remain within the EU.

Catalans vote in the European elections with self-determination and budget cuts in their minds

May 23, 2014 11:15 PM | ACN

The 2014 European parliamentary elections are likely to become a milestone for Catalan people for three main reasons, which taken together send a strong message to the international community, the EU institutions and Member State governments, including that of Spain. Firstly, political parties and civil society organisations supporting self-determination have called citizens to vote in these elections as a way to push for a referendum on independence to take place on the 9th of November of this year. This may significantly increase turnout from the low 36.94% registered in 2009. Secondly, the two main self-determination parties are likely to be the most voted parties in Catalonia. In addition, the Left-Wing Independence Party (ERC) may go from 4th place in the 2009 poll to 1st place this time around. Thirdly, support for the two main parties behind the EU austerity measures that turned into drastic budget cuts in southern Europe – the People’s Party and the Socialist Party – is likely to plummet in Catalonia.

The European Commission will only give a definitive answer on Catalonia’s EU membership on the basis of “a precise scenario”

September 18, 2013 09:29 PM | ACN

The European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, repeated on Wednesday the answer given by Romano Prodi on a question about Algeria and its hypothetical EU membership on the basis of its French past: “if a region separates itself from a Member State, it quits de facto the European Union”. Barnier emphasised that this is a “general” opinion. However, he added that the European Commission will only issue its definitive opinion about an independent Catalonia on the basis of “a precise scenario” and refuses to “speculate” about the Catalan case. Besides, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, affirmed that questioning Catalonia’s “economic integration within the EU” follows “controversies stirred up by interested parties”.

The Catalan Government stresses that no treaty says that an independent Catalonia would be out of the European Union

September 17, 2013 09:20 PM | ACN

The Catalan Presidency Minister, Francesc Homs, answered the statement made by the Spanish Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquín Almunía, which was later backed by the Spokesperson of the international institution. Homs insisted that there is no automatic mechanism in the EU treaties to kick out a separated part of a Member State, although neither are there automatic mechanisms to ensure it remains within the EU. The Catalan Government’s Spokesperson stated that everything depends on the political will and negotiations. In fact, he hoped to hold such talks at Spanish level but also including the EU institutions, “because too many interests are at stake”. He added that the most pressing question is whether the Catalan people can hold a self-determination referendum, and that the EU debate is used as a distraction.

Almunia now states that an independent Catalonia would be out of the EU and the European Commission backs him

September 16, 2013 10:17 PM | ACN

Last October, the Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia, emphasised “it would be dishonest [...] to give a strict answer” as to whether a separated part of a Member State would still be part of the EU. Back then, Almunia insisted that “the question is not a black and white one” and “it has many nuances”. However, this Monday he stated that the “separated part of a Member State would no longer be part of the European Union”. A few hours later, the European Commission’s Spokesperson, Pia Ahrenkilde, backed Almunia’s statements. The issue comes after last week’s 400-kilometre-long human chain supporting Catalonia’s independence from Spain, which was formed by 1.6 million citizens, and Madrid’s diplomatic offensive, including the controversy with Latvia and Lithuania.

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.

Banc Sabadell’s President defends the work of the current Bank of Spain Governor

May 31, 2012 12:23 AM | CNA / Josep Molina

Josep Oliu, President of Banc Sabadell, thinks that if somebody is to be made responsible for the current crisis, a thorough analysis of the decisions of sector managers during the 2003-2007 period should be made, and not among those currently in charge. Oliu, who has been a banker “all his life”, feels he is a “victim” of a situation provoked by managers who were “not acting as bankers”. The Catalan banker recognised that the Spanish banking system can still face the new requirements on its own but it is getting “closer to the limit of its own economic capacity”. Besides, Oliu was very satisfied with the European Commission’s green light for CAM’s integration into Banc Sabadell’s business.