An independent Catalonia in the EU? An article by Aureli Argemí

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Most parties and movements that are working towards the independence of Catalonia see the future of the Catalan Republic as a State within the European Union. This prediction is insistently countered by a wide range of mass media, by the Spanish government, by the governments of other states, by international agents, etc. The argument they wield to oppose the Catalan people’s will is that, with independence, Catalonia would have to follow a procedure which would need the agreement of all EU State members. One hostile vote would be enough to stall it. The Spanish kingdom has already announced that it would vote against this incorporation.

This negative stance would correspond to the position of EU State members with respect to Scotland, although Scotland could present allegations in her favour that Catalonia cannot yet invoke. One of these is that in the Referendum in the UK, which gave rise to the famous Brexit solution, the vast majority of Scots voted for staying in the EU. A factor that has put pressure on the British government, but which has not made it change its attitude. It wields the argument that, although many Scots may disagree, Scotland wants to continue forming part of the United Kingdom. This is indicated by the result of the referendum on independence and, thus, that the Scots have to accept that the citizens of the State to which they belong have already voted, mojoritarily, to leave the European Union. The Scots, within this state, are a minority. In the event that Scotand got permission to carry out a fresh the redeferendum and won independence, according to the opinion of the English government, other EU remaining in the EU would “surely” oppose its incorporation.

That “surely” is in no way clear. For many motives. One of main ones is that today Scotland, thanks to its economic situation, is an overall contributor to the EU, which would have no interest in losing any of its positive contributors. Another reason, point to by Vilaweb director Vicent Partal in an article published in El Punt-Avui, on February 23, under the title “Scotland, the cynicism involved”, comes to us from Germany: «This week the German government has made a series of warnings about Scotland reach the European public opinion. All of these in the sense that the EU would be deligted for Scotland to stay on, if it gained independence. Indeed, Elmar Brok, one of the MPs closest to Angela Merkel, made a very bold statement in this sense to the British press, saying that if Britain continued its policy of trying to divide the other twenty-seven states, Germany will be its utmost to keep Scotland in the EU, acknowledging that the only was to attain this was through independence (…). In the European Parliament, the issue has been put in the table in no uncertain terms and it seems more and more cear that an indepedent Scotland would in no way have to “queue behind Turkey”. The problem, doubtless an important one, is that this (that Scotland would have to queue behind Turkey) is just what the EU predicted would happen when Scotland voted its independence. The EU then clearly opposed the same Scottish independence it now craves, thus contributing to the confusion of many Scottish citizens”.

These considerations and stances are, without doubt, applicable to the Catalan case. While Catalan independence remains a thesis or a hypothesis, the avalanche of criticisms and condemnations will be a constant threat. For the fear that the avalanche of imagined disasters to drop, even before the announced Referendum to the Catalan people and mentally provoke a stampede, a flight from the polls by Catalan citizens or the proliferation of “NO” votes. The day that, thanks to a referendum or another decision of the Catalan Parliament, indepednce should win, European democrats will probably stand for the continuity with in the EU of a nation, now State, that has not only expressed its will ot to leave the EU, but wants to stay on. Catalonia will be accepted, futhermore, because it is a positive contributor to EU funds.

Aureli Argemí

Emeritus President of CIEMEN

President of Plataforma pel Dret de Decidir (PDD)