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Post Catalan Independence?
Created by John Eipper on 03/05/13 5:12 AM

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Catalan Independence? (Jordi Molins, -Spain, 03/05/13 5:12 am)

This is a reply to JE's question (see Ángel Viñas, 3 March), "would Catalunya still accept independence, if it means being denied membership in the EU, at least for the medium term?"

The key issue from the Catalan point of view is not independence (or at least, not yet), but the right to decide democratically our future. Catalonia is preparing for a referendum / democratic consultation during the next year or so regarding the political future of Catalonia.

My reply to JE is another question: what would Spain and the EU do if, say, 55% of Catalans vote for independence, while say 25% vote against independence (abstention for the rest)?

I can perfectly imagine Spaniards (right wing and left wing alike) ignoring this democratic decision (our "mamandurrias" first!), but what about the EU, which is based on the values of democracy and freedom?

Finally, let me point out that on May 23, 1991, the EU and the USA declared they would never acknowledge Slovenia as a nation, and Slovenia would never be part of the EU. Two days later, Slovenia declared unilaterally their independence. On June 4, 1991, Germany and the USA declared Slovenia's independence was unavoidable. Currently, Slovenia is a key member of the EU, in a much better shape as a country under any metric than Serbia.

JE comments:  It is understandable that Catalans would compare themselves to Slovenia, which was a highly industrialized and prosperous region in the former Yugoslavia.  But how would this analogy play out in the rest of Spain?  Yugoslavia was imploding in 1991, becoming more or less a failed state, and it had existed as a political entity only since 1919 (not 1469 as in the case of Spain).  Tactically, the Slovenia analogy will only lead to strengthened resistance in Madrid.

Jordi Molins speaks not of independence but of democracy for Catalunya.  I understand this as a call for greater autonomy, which is probably an achievable goal.  This aphorism might be relevant (or it might not):  you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

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  • Independence Movements in Europe: Not for Romantics (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/06/13 5:08 AM)
    In response to Jordi Molins (5 March), let me say a few words about Catalan independence and the EU. Please forgive me if, for reasons of confidentiality, I remain rather cautious. I don´t ask WAISers to believe me, but please don´t disregard the info as a mere figment of my febrile imagination.

    The Lisbon Treaty ensures that the political makeup (structures) of the Member States is a matter for each Member State to decide. As it should be.

    Both the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission have publicly stated that if Catalonia were to become independent, it would have to apply for admission into the EU. This means it would have to follow the way other prospective candidates have gone or must go. Catalan independentists may say this is mere gobbledygook. I´m not so certain.

    Several months ago another (region, nation) subnational entity asked a very well-known lawyer's company in Brussels about her prospects for remaining in the EU should she secede from the "mother country." It's rumored in Brussels that the report wasn´t very encouraging. The findings weren´t made public either by the subnational nor the national entity concerned.

    This is a very high stakes game. Nothing for romantics.

    JE comments:  Romanticism, as the brilliant Benedict Anderson pointed out, is what gave rise to modern nationalism in the first place.  Jordi Molins argued in his post of 5 March that Catalunya is first and foremost seeking a voice in its own future--not necessarily independence.  However, I wonder if the independentist parties in Catalunya have worked through the math of setting up a diplomatic corps and embassies around the world--as well as the enormous legal expenses that would come out of the "divorce" from Spain.

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