An Independent Catalonia Within the EU (IT In Transit #23)


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An Independent Cataonia Within the EU (IT In Transit #23)

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Date: 01.2014.

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An Independent Catalonia Within the EU (IT In Transit #23)

  1. 1. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 EDITORIAL Democracy and pragmatism. An independent Catalonia within the EU. Josep Maria Vilajosana. Professor of Legal Philosophy and Dean of Pompeu Fabra University’s Law School. Would an independent Catalonia be inevitably excluded from the EU? From a legal point of view, the first observation to make is that there is no international or EU law which explicitly deals with this question. Those who would answer the above question in the affirmative cite articles 4.2 and 49 of the EU Treaty. However, is such a position a secure one? It is not, and I shall explain why this is the case. Art. 4.2. states: ‘The Union shall respect their essential State functions [of member states] including ensuring the territorial integrity of the State’. Some claim that this provision prevents the acceptance of any new state that had declared independence unilaterally, since this would affect the maintenance of the territorial integrity of member states. Nevertheless, those who make this claim forget that the purpose of this rule is to avoid the interference of European institutions in the exercise of the functions of the states in order to ensure their territorial integrity. Therefore, if a new state (Catalonia) effectively came into existence, this rule would no longer apply. To put it another way, when Art. 4.2. speaks of territorial integrity it refers to the integrity in response to outside interference in the state, especially the EU, rather than changes produced internally. As for Art. 49, concerning new applications for entry into the EU, those who cite it assume it is applicable to the case of Catalonia. However, one needs to keep in mind that this article governs the entry of a new state, to regulate the process and ensure that all those concerned adapt to the new situation. However, is this the case of Catalonia? It is totally unreasonable to apply the procedure governing newly-joining members outlined in Art. 49 to an area where European Union law has been in force since 1986 and where Europeans are living with the rights and obligations they have acquired. It therefore appears that the true intention of those that appeal to this article is to use it as a threat, either of a refusal to membership or the lengthy waiting period that a new state would supposedly spend outside the EU. At this point, however, we ought to stop for a moment. Is it inevitable that the Spanish state will exercise the veto as has been forecast? There is a very important issue that is often overlooked. An initial step is required, prior to initiating the process that is decided by a unanimous vote covered in Art. 49: deciding whether the mechanism is in fact to be used. Next the question is who will decide the implementation of the mechanism, what the procedure will be and with what criteria? The most reasonable approach is for the European Council to make the decision. But if this is the case, it should be noted that this preliminary decision does not longer require the unanimous vote of all members, but rather a consensus (Art. 15.4), the facilitation of which being one of the functions of the president (Art. 15. 6. b.). A consensus, as opposed to a unanimous decision, is not simply a voting mechanism, but rather a cooperative process, whose purpose is to work together in good faith in seeking solutions which are beneficial for the group. And what are the criteria that ought to come into play to achieve this consensus? I believe they can be divided into two types: key criteria and other more pragmatic in nature. Regarding the key criteria, it is worth recalling the values that underpin the EU as listed in Art. 2: ‘the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy [ ... ] including the rights of persons belonging to minorities’. These values must be respected by both the EU and the member states in their respective activities. Therefore, the refusal of a member state to hold a referendum to decide the independence of a territory or fail to respond to the unequivocal will of the majority of citizens in a territory could be seen, in the light of these international standards, as a violation of these principles and a lack of protection of the rights mentioned above. In addition, depending on how the infraction were to occur, the application of the control mechanism and penalties outlined in Art. 7 cannot be ruled out. What do these principles mean? Sticking to the principle of freedom implies being sensitive to the life plans that each person has freely chosen. Respecting the rights of minorities, involves not permanently exploiting a set of individuals on the grounds that they constitute a minority. This is what would happen, for example, if a territorial minority such as the Catalans were denied any chance of deciding their political future as a group, for the simple fact that they are a minority within Spain. Finally, appreciating human dignity requires the state to take seriously the expressions of free will made by its adult citizens. In short, if adults believe for whatever reason it is extremely important for them to democratically decide their collective political future, their will should be taken into consideration. Otherwise, they would become a minority which is permanently dominated or treated with unjustified paternalism, which is unbecoming of a democratic regime. Democracy is based on the principle of the majority, but it is contrary to domination by the majority. The pragmatic reasons, in turn, have to do with the predictable social, legal, political and economic consequences the decision would have, for the EU itself as well as for its citizens and the businesses of its member states. The fact is that throughout its history the EU has been very careful when searching for creative solutions to deal with situations not covered by the Treaties. For example, consider the successful solutions it found in cases such as the expansion of Germany, Greenland’s exit or Cyprus’ territorial peculiarities. Despite all the differences between these various instances, and the Catalan case in turn, they all have two features in common: they were not specifically regulated and were solved considering the mutual benefit of both the EU and its member states. In the event that the EU’s decision was absolute exclusion, the economic and social
  2. 2. interests of the member states and the new state could be negatively affected. It is a problem that could be solved by adopting a pragmatic solution that avoided rupture between the EU and the new state, assuming, of course, the state fulfilled all the requirements to become a member state and that it applied to form a part. It therefore seems likely that for both profound and pragmatic reasons, a consensus will be reached in order to create an ad hoc procedure which does not harm the EU and which does not allow the possibility of a veto, the only justification for which would be spite or revenge. Does this mean that we would go from a possible negative to Catalonia’s entry into the EU to automatic membership? It is likely that the latter possibility is somewhat unrealistic unless there was an agreed secession process with Spain and if Catalonia was allowed to simultaneously negotiate with the EU. The most likely scenario is a temporary solution that facilitates the implementation of EU law in the new state, while the laws that allow the adaptation to the new situation by the said state and the predecessor state remain unchanged. This has been the understanding of individuals such as the German political scientist Kai-Olaf Lang, when he suggested that the EU could apply the Cyprus model, but in reverse, in order that European Community legislation remains in force in the Catalan territory although the Catalan state is outside the European institutions for as long as the accession process lasts. Image by
  3. 3. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 FURTHER READING Is Catalonia to be expelled from the EU? Ramon Tremosa. CDC MEP. The most important factor would be remaining part of the European Economic Area, and Spain would be powerless to prevent it. Last Tuesday El Periódico newspaper printed a response from the European Commission (EC) to my parliamentary question. The EC finally replied in the manner the PP and PSOE have wanted them to for some time now: ‘If part of a country becomes a new independent state it would be dealt with as a separate country and any treaties cease to be applicable’. Let’s examine the issue a little more closely. The EC has given me different answers to my questions on this issue. On 12th November 2012: ‘It is not down to the EC to adopt a position on matters relating to the internal organization of its member states’. 23rd February 2013: ‘The conditions of EU treaties are decided by the member states’. Is its most recent response due to mounting political pressure and the fact that some commissioners end their terms at the next European elections? It is the responsibility of the Court of Justice in Luxembourg and not the EC to interpret EU treaties. Indeed, if Catalonia were to be expelled from the EU, the International Court of Justice in The Hague would have the final say in the event of such a unilateral separation. Its recent ruling on Kosovo was not exactly favourable to Spain, however. The PP and PSOE have also faired badly in the European Parliament (EP), having decisively lost several votes when they attempted to block Kosovo’s entry to the EU. They were also defeated in a vote on the single European patent, the central crossing of the Aragonese Pyrenees and the Parot Doctrine. Leaving the EU would be as a long a process as the entry process: Brussels says that if Britain votes to leave the EU in 2015 negotiations will last years and that the EU will try to ensure that any country leaving retains as many of the Community’s laws as possible. Scotland is not Turkey. The above reinforces the idea that an independent Catalonia would have enough time to renegotiate its reinstatement in the EU from within. So says the Honorary Director General of the European Commission, Graham Avery, in an article published on the British Parliament website: an independent Scotland would negotiate its rapid reintegration into the EU from within. Avery defends a fast-track approach, ruling out Spain’s vision of Scotland having to join the queue behind Turkey. The Economist, the world’s most influential financial magazine, itself not a supporter of the Scottish referendum, states in an article on Scotland (3rd November 2012) that ‘a Spain which is increasingly indebted and dependent on money from the ECB will be unable to veto anyone in the EU’. The EU is still a small union of states, far removed from a federal Europe, with an annual budget only four times larger than that of the Government of Catalonia (130,000 million, 0.8% of the EU-28’s GDP). Within the EU, Spain holds the record for defaults and poorly applying EU regulations, with hundreds of legal cases pending for illegal state subsidies. Madrid constantly refers to the rule of law and its strict adherence, yet has repeatedly shown it is not exactly a shining example itself. It is far more important for Catalonia to continue participating within the single European market and the European Economic Area (EEA), which guarantees the free movement of people, goods and capital and which is the real source of progress and wealth in Europe. This was the great European success story of the twentieth century, which is now mimicked by many other continents with similar free-trade movements. Switzerland, Norway and Andorra, which are non-EU members, have signed agreements with the EU in order to be part of this space. If Catalonia were to be expelled from the EU, the latter has the exclusive right to negotiate agreements relating to the EEA and since the last Lisbon Treaty such decisions no longer need to be approved unanimously: Article 207 states that they can be agreed upon by a qualified majority of countries (two-thirds) together with the agreement of the European Parliament. Spain does not have the right or ability to single-handedly veto Catalonia’s efforts to remain in the EEA, an area which is home to 500 million people: Spain is unable to mobilise a blocking minority in the EU (one-third) to expel Catalonia from the EEA: Catalonia is home to more than 4,000 European multinationals that would never allow Spain to expel it from the EEA. Leadership within the EU is not down to a country’s size, but rather good practices it can offer other member states. For this reason, some small countries are leaders while other large countries are not. According to a devastating article by Professor Ignacio Molina in the Madrid-based Fundación Elcano’s magazine (13th March 2013), Spain’s reputation stands at an all-time low within the EU. The PP and the PSOE would do well to negotiate with Catalonia as Cameron has done with Scotland. As The Economist (22nd December 2012) stated, ‘With the outlook so grim, it is no surprise that Catalan politicians talk seriously of secession’. First published in El Periódico
  4. 4. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 FURTHER READING The future of an independent Catalonia and the EU Aleix Sarri. Vilaweb. Europe is not likely to be a problem for an independent Catalonia. Neither is Europe however, going to be an accelerator element of the process. With this premise clear, Catalonia has a long way to go before calling itself a new state on the International Community -as was demanded in the historic demonstration on 11 September 2012. A calmed analysis of the situation shows that there are solid reasons to believe that, when the time comes, the solution shall be political: there is a range of possibilities to achieve full sovereignty without sacrificing the Europeanism which has been the cornerstone for Catalans. History and jurisprudence are the best antidote against apocalyptic discourses that are only intended to restrain the democratic exercise of citizenship by Catalans. For economic and democratic reasons -backbone of the EU- the northern European powers will not be in any case a brake for the Catalan process. 1. The EU remains neutral on the independence of Catalonia At least in theory, the European Commission -the government of the EU composed of 28 Member States- is neutral on the Catalan process, and the details of the procedure for an hypothetical Catalan State to access to the EU for a hypothetical cannot be known until there is a formal request from one of the current Member States. European Commission 12 November 2012 “Concerning certain scenarios such as the separation of one part of a Member State or the creation of a new State, these would not be neutral as regards the EU Treaties. The Commission would express its opinion on the legal consequences under EC law, on request from a Member State detailing a precise scenario.” As there is no precedent in this regard, journalists and MEPs have asked repeatedly on this issue without much success. Starting from a diversity of opinions from some of the Commissioners, even contradictory remarks coming from the same persons, the European Commission has adhered to state that a new state would need to comply with the standard procedure constitutes acceptance unanimously of other states (including Spain). Commission February 23, 2012: At the present time, the Commission is not able to express any view on the specific issue raised by the Honourable Member given that the terms and result of any future referendum are unknown, as is the nature of the possible future relationships between the parties concerned and between those parties and European Union partners. The latest response from the European Commission has been harder in language, but still is not based on any new case law. It should be emphasized in this sense that it is not clear what would happen to the current European Citizenship of Catalans citizens who are now also European because of their Spanish nationality. European Commission’s November 20 “If part of the territory of a Member State would cease to be part of that state because it was to become a new independent state, the Treaties would no longer apply to that territory. In other words, a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory.” “Under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, any European state which respects the principles set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union may apply to become a member of the EU. If the application is accepted by the Council acting unanimously, an agreement is then negotiated between the applicant state and the Member States on the conditions of admission and the adjustments to the Treaties which such admission entails. This agreement is subject to ratification by all Member States and the applicant state.” It has to be seen whether this political interpretation of EU treaties remains the same after the elections in 2014, the election of a new President of the European Commission and a boom from Eurosceptic parties, which may further fragment the EU Parliament. You also need to look at a significant detail: many European politicians think about what would happen to an independent Catalonia in the EU context, but few of them spoke publicly against independence itself or its right to hold a referendum. Some even have stepped forward, as the European liberal Party – third group of the euro-chamber, who its leaders have already publicly supported the right of the Catalans to decide their own future. 2. Judgment of the International Court With regard to international law, it is clear that independence is a standard procedure in a world that has passed from 61 independent states in 1914 to 206 today. But it is worth reviewing a few fragments of the judgment of 22 July 2010 from the International Court of Justice in Den Hague: “The Court notes that the Security Council has condemned certain declarations of independence ... The illegality of these declarations of independence, not from its unilateral nature, but the fact that they were connected to
  5. 5. the illegal use of force or other violations of general rules of international law binding “ “The practice of States in this period (XVIII, XIX and XX ) clearly points to the conclusion that international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence “ Thus, it seems clear that Catalonia does not commit an illegal act with independence, since it will not use force or act against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is a significant fact in the face of the possible recognition of other states, a key element for the consolidation of the future Catalan state. 3. Catalonia, a southern Norway? Should the EU keep the rule of unanimity for accession, Spain, alone or with other allied states might use its veto power to prevent the re- entry of Catalonia in the EU. However, if there is a significant number of European states that have recognized the independence of Catalonia, the Catalan State may be maintained within the single market through a free trade agreement with the European Commission concluded ad hoc. To join the European Economic Area it is needed only a qualified majority of the Council (2/3 of the votes among Member States) (Article 207 of the Lisbon Treaty) and the consent of the European Parliament. Spain therefore has no right of veto to prevent Catalonia of continuing to sell its products to a market of 500 million people. The only inconvenience of this scenario is that to enjoy access to the single market, Catalonia should continue implementing the dozens of directives adopted annually by the EU without having on them much greater political influence than any other lobby outside the institutions. 4. Re-accession into the EU This scenario is the one that the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, has more than once pointed out: Catalonia, having declared independence, should follow the normal process of accession by the Copenhagen criteria, comply with all EU legislation to create a government with European standards and to achieve unanimous support among the EU Member States. In a study by the British Parliament, it was considered this scenario as the most likely for Scotland, and added that the process of re- accession would take several months or even a bit more than a year, but in any case made clear that Scotland is not Turkey, its citizens are EU citizens and therefore the re-accession process should be simple. In this scenario Catalonia would participate as a full member of the EU, with a Commissioner, 16 MEPs and the same rights as the other Member States of the European Council. Catalonia should show solidarity to the rest of the EU, taking the expense of Finland as a good indicator it would be about 693 million annual as net contribution to the EU. The main drawback is that Spain would use its veto power. Without ruling out a change in the Treaties that ends with the unanimity rule, it has to be seen how far may get the political pressure of the Council to prevent a breakup of the EU. The Catalan government will always have the option of bringing the case before the Luxembourg Court to request an interpretation of the Treaties that respects the status of Catalan citizens as European Citizens. 5. Will the EU make a political pirouette to accommodate Catalonia? The possible departure of Britain from the EU can make that the next Treaty reform should include the possibility to allow some intermediate EU membership so the British can continue in without many obligations. The EU association agreement with Kosovo is already showing that European integration can be very fast when needed. As Professor Ivan Serrano says in his book ‘From the Nation to the State’: “something interesting to note in the context that is generated after the Kosovo case is that international law does not necessarily protect the territorial integrity of states due to a process of unilateral secession, provided they do not violate rules explicitly included in the international order.” The example of Turkish Cyprus also demonstrates that EU knows how to look for creative solutions. And thus, we should not be too fast into jumping to conclusions. According to documents made public by Scotland, a country takes on average 16 months after the holding of the referendum that legitimizes independence until his proclamation. This period will open a window of opportunity for Catalonia to negotiate its relationship with the EU. Also it gives enough time for the EU to develop a strategy that avoids the geopolitical and economic disaster that would mean to lose Catalonia, a strategic crossing point for goods with a considerable economic weight (similar to Portugal and Finland) and a high capacity for internationalization. While being unknown what will be the legal pirouette that the EU will use to solve the Catalan case, Catalans should not be afraid because, at least maintaining its presence in the single market should be assured. With political independence and participation in the European Economic Area, the benefits for Catalonia of having its own state already would be much larger than the costs of continuing to be part of Spain. The determination of Catalans to achieve an independent state will be the best negotiating tool with an EU that always adapts to reality. Europe will not be an enthusiastic part of the process but will neither be a brake for it, for democratic and pragmatic reasons. First published in Vilaweb Image by Vilaweb
  6. 6. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 FURTHER READING After Scotland, another European breakaway? Catherine Boyle. CNBC 13/12/2013 You can read the article “After Scotland, another European breakaway?”, by Catherine Boyle, in this link: The article was published in CNBC Image by Emilio Morenatti AP Photo in CNBC
  7. 7. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 OPINION Yes + Yes Agustí Colomines. Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Barcelona The agreement reached by the parties which are committed to the right to decide is a shrewd move, since it preserves the unity of the majority of Catalan political forces from the outset. Even the PSC could have joined in if it hadn’t rushed into the arms of an ultraconservative PSOE. Why exactly shouldn’t we consult the people about their future? The conservative drift of Spanish and Catalan socialism is rather troubling. I am one of those who believe that one thing is the party apparatus and the various municipal posts which unite an anti-Catalan sentiment which they (inexplicably) feel towards CiU and ERC, and quite another the socialist voters, who are pro-Catalan simply for the fact that they are Catalan. The lack of emotional intelligence among socialist leaders has also been demonstrated of late in that they decided to hold a gathering of socialist municipal appointees in Plaça Sant Jaume precisely when the historic agreement was being announced. It is the first time in years that the PSC has been excluded from the Catalan consensus. They have marginalised themselves because, as I explained in an earlier post, the PSC has reverted to the time of Antoni Fabra i Ribas, the leader of the Catalan Federation of the PSOE at the start of the twentieth century. It remains to be seen what will happen, since there is still a year ahead in which to adjust positions. That’s a long time in politics. The double question which has been agreed upon, allows those who are pro-federalism and those who are proindependence (as well as those who oppose both options) to vote with the conviction that they are not being deceived. It is not the first instance of such a formula being employed. In the 2012 non-binding referendum on the status of Puerto Rico, voters had to decide with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ on two separate but related questions. It was the fourth time that Puerto Rico (a Commonwealth of the United States since 1952) had voted on its sovereignty in a referendum. The first question was the following: ‘Are you in agreement with keeping the current territorial status?’. The second question read: ‘Which of the following non-territorial options would you prefer: Statehood, Independence or a Sovereign Commonwealth?’. Perhaps you recall the result: 53.62% of the voters (out of one million two hundred thousand votes cast) replied ‘No’ to the first question. With regards to the second question, 62.32% of Puerto Ricans voted in favour of statehood. In other words, they were in favour of Puerto Rico ceasing to be a Commonwealth dependent on the United States and becoming the 51st state of the Union. 32.71% chose the option whereby the island would remain a Sovereign Commonwealth while only 5.2% agreed that Puerto Rico should become a fully independent nation. The plebiscites in 1967, 1993 and 1998 had not even bothered with the possibility of simply joining the US. The history of Puerto Rico is certainly unusual in this regard, since it was a Spanish colony until 1898 and Spain considered the Puerto Ricans to be Spanish. From 1917 they were considered to be Americans but they didn’t have the right to vote. However, Spain’s disappointment at the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898 at the hands of the US was even more dramatic than their current reaction to Catalonia’s call for self-determination. Puerto Rico is not the only instance of a compound question. In 1997, during the referendum on devolution for Scotland, which took place on an emblematic date for we Catalans, September 11th, the question also consisted of two parts: the first asked voters whether they agreed with the restoration of a Scottish Parliament (abolished following the dynastic union of 1707) and the second asked whether they agreed that said parliament should have powers over the financial control of Scotland. Taxation, in other words. The outcome of the referendum backed by Tony Blair, a genuine reformer, was ‘Yes – Yes’, since the majority voted in favour of both proposals. Specifically: 1,775,045 (74.3%) of voters voted in favour of the first question, while 614,400 (25.7%) voters were opposed to it. The results of the second question were somewhat different: 1,512,889 (63.5%) opted for a ‘yes’ vote and 870,263 (36.5%) for a ‘no’. In response to the majority voting a double ‘yes’ in 1998, the British Parliament passed the Scotland Act, thereby creating the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Executive. Sixteen years later, in 2014, the Scots will return to the polls to decide on a further step in the recovery of their sovereignty. This time they will be allowed to do so by a conservative British Prime Minister, David Cameron, currently head of the only party to be against devolution in 1997. Something of a turnaround, no? The fact that the date chosen to try to hold the referendum is still far off is no bad thing. We need a lot of time, effort and persuasion to demonstrate that what we are calling for is nothing more than a democratic right. The Spanish state isn’t making it easy for us. Every day the spiral of verbal violence continues, as do the apocalyptic warnings. However, as I commented to a hard-liner friend of mine from Madrid, I believe that people who don’t live in Catalonia have failed to realize the enormous change which Catalan society has undergone. This change has been so important and so powerful that the traditional, pact-making Catalanist and Regenerationist Spanish political approach has been blown out of the water. La Vanguardia’s centrist guru, José Antonio Zarzalejos, recently commented on how surprised he was by the change, in one of his rare articles not to be devoted to lambasting President Artur Mas. If such an individual, who makes it up as he goes along or receives distorted accounts from his sources, is beginning to have doubts, it shows that the Catalan sovereignty movement is indeed gaining ground. Now, we just need to realise that the time has come. The period that begins today will be hard and rough. We mustn’t fall for their provocations. So far, we have more or less achieved it. Well done! First published in “El passat que no passa” Image: Agustí Colomines. Published in “El passat que no passa”
  8. 8. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 OPINION Catalonia moves to a vote Artur Mas. President of the Generalitat de Catalunya - NEWEUROPE 13/01/2014 Catalonia’s Government and opposition parties, as mandated by our voters, have together decided to hold a popular vote on self-determination on 9 November 2014. Catalans will be asked a two-part question: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state? If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?” But why does Catalonia need to take such a step at this time? Catalonia is an ancient European nation, bordering the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea. Our origins can be found in the Carolingian Empire a thousand years ago and, ever since, the small country of Catalonia has been at the junction of two great regional powers, a meeting place for different peoples, a bridge between Europe and the Mediterranean. Our language, Catalan, stretches beyond the administrative borders of Catalonia and is spoken by 9 million Europeans. As a people, we Catalans have always rooted our identity in culture and international openness. Barcelona, our capital, is a vibrant Mediterranean metropolis, a major destination for foreign direct investment, a cradle of Gothic and Modernist architecture and a magnet for many of Europe’s artistic movements of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Our small nation lost its freedom in 1714 but has kept its identity alive despite dictatorships and large-scale cultural repression. Spain’s return to democracy in 1978 allowed for recovering some of our autonomy. However, the Spanish state and governments of all parties constantly try to centralise and to build a homogenous, Hispanic country. This has convinced many Catalans that only the right of self-determination can guarantee their political, economic and cultural survival. From a legal perspective, in 2010 the Spanish Constitutional Court suppressed several fundamental aspects of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, the basic law which guarantees our self-government and which was revised in 2006 after an agreement between the Parliament of Catalonia and the Parliament of Spain, as well as a referendum held in Catalonia. Economically, the Government of Catalonia has been the most efficient in implementing severe austerity policies that have helped reduce the Spanish budget deficit more than any other region. In spite of the severe economic crisis across Europe, Catalonia has continued to innovate in technology, and attract new foreign investment. Culturally speaking, a recent quote from the Spanish Minister of Culture and Education clearly illustrates the agenda of the central state: “it is in our interest to hispanicise Catalan children”. Our self-determination process has been led by our vibrant civil society with massive grassroots support across Catalonia as evidenced by the 1.5 million citizens who marched through Barcelona on 11 September 2012, our national day. Again on 11 September 2013, following the example of the Baltic Way of 1989, which opened the door to recovering the independence of the three Baltic Republics, a 400 km-long human chain was organised on 11 September - the Catalan national day - across Catalonia from the French border in the north to our southern limits. Inspired by the civic example of the Baltic peoples, the Catalans called for their right to freely decide the future of their people, showing Madrid – and the world - that Catalonia will not settle for anything short of a self-determination referendum, just like the one negotiated by the UK and Scottish governments. That is why we, Catalonia’s political leaders, have decided to move to the next stage – for our people to freely choose their own future in November. In twenty-first century Europe, we solve these disputes peacefully and democratically, with ballot boxes and votes. Madrid should abide by its professed democratic principles and allow the referendum our people desire. Let us vote, we say. Let us vote, we ask. Let us vote, we demand. First published in NEWEUROPE Photo: AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA NEWEUROPE
  9. 9. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 OPINION Unities and majorities Francesc-Marc Álvaro. LA VANGUARDIA. 16/12/2013 The consensus as to the content and date of the referendum on Catalonia’s future has been welcomed by the sovereignist camp as a small victory for three reasons: first because it belies the negative predictions made from both within and without [Catalonia] as to the ability of the political parties involved to take control of the process; second because it lowers the degree of mistrust between the leaders involved in the process; and third because it redirects the debate surrounding the Catalan cause towards democracystagnation instead of keeping it within the independence-unionism dialectic. This in turn facilitates international pedagogy on sovereignty and makes Madrid’s task all the more difficult. That said, we must be realistic and acknowledge that the unity of democratic action that safeguards the question between pro-independence parties (CDC, ERC and CUP) and others (Unió and ICV) carries an obvious risk, as Jordi Graupera has pointed out: it complicates the building of a clear majority at the polls, since a referendum consisting of a question in two parts becomes a query that is, simultaneously, a referendum on the secession of Catalonia (the ‘independent state’ part) and, incidentally, an imprecise survey as to how Catalonia should continue within Spain (the ‘state’ part). Moreover, the second possibility is obviously an issue that will depend on the momentum of the Spanish government rather than the Catalan government and Catalan political parties. Nonetheless, one of the great virtues of the two-part question is that makes it very easy for Catalan socialists to sign up to the Right to Decide and to distance themselves from the positions held by the PP, PSOE and C’s. We will doubtless witness the Catalan socialist landscape undergoing a rapid transformation. I am among those who believe that the referendum will actually fail to take place since President Rajoy won’t allow it and because Mas (in agreement with Junqueras) will avoid such a confrontation in exchange for an election. Such an election would be a clever way of gauging public support for an independent state, though it would presumably break the unity surrounding the right to decide which was so evident in Thursday’s photo. A referendum with a two-part question favours Unió and ICV holding certain positions which would be limited in an election. What will happen to CiU and Duran? What will the eco-socialist leaders propose? There is considerable political unity and a substantial social unity in favour of a referendum. Meanwhile, as it currently stands, the building of an electoral majority in favour of an independent state is not a given and the option of simply having a state, vaguely federalist in nature without stating it openly, appears to be more a hypothetical blocking tactic to secession than the construction of a (multi-national) arrangement of Spain. PSC’s decision to opt out means that federalism is a de facto ‘anti’ vote, rather than a genuine alternative which competes on an equal footing with the independence option. At present, the supporters of the ‘yes, yes’ vote are the only ones who are actually putting forward a political alternative. This is to their advantage. First published in La Vanguardia Photo published in Francesc-Marc Álvaro’s blog
  10. 10. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 IN DEPTH The Tories and the EU, from ‘more or less’ to ‘in or out’ Marc Gafarot - Catalan International View The European problem has always been a problem ‘The whole map of Europe has been changed... but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again’. Thus proclaimed Winston Churchill in 1922 underlying the fact that following the carnage and epoch-defining events of the Great War the perennial problem of Ireland would be exactly that, perennial. If we jump forward 90 years we see that for another Conservative leader, following a return to government after 13 years in the political wilderness, another perennial dilemma has resurfaced to trouble him and cause him the same worries which beset the premierships of two other Tory Prime Ministers. The perennial question which David Cameron has been asked to answer is the United Kingdom’s place in and relationship with the European Union. It is clear that the UK’s relationship with the EU has always been ambivalent. It is a relationship which seeks to balance national interest with many of those characteristics which make up British exceptionalism. Her administrative and military history, her political and cultural peculiarities, her ties to the Commonwealth, the ‘special relationship’ with the US as well as the common law tradition are a few of the facets of the UK which affect how the European Union is perceived and how its elite have engaged with this unique model of cooperation among nation states. In contrast to other member states the European Union has never been viewed by the majority of UK policy makers, nor for that matter by the wider population, as a vehicle for national renewal. Rather its benefits are always couched in present-day economic and geopolitical terms, not ideological ones. Opposition to the European Union within the UK (while listing the political, economic and social effects of membership) is of a more decidedly ideological nature. This is an opposition which has grown, which has hardened, which is widespread among the population and one that finds some of its most vocal advocates within the Conservative Party. The Tories: making Europe and dividing themselves Things have changed since the days when it was the Conservative Party which called the shots on Europe. It was Harold Macmillan who made the first overtures to the then EEC in spite of an imperialist rump in his party as well as opposition from Labour and lukewarm public opinion. The economic rationale and newfound needs of a post-war UK in decline pointed the way to finally joining the party, albeit in a half-hearted and tardy manner. This ambivalence married with other aspects of Gallic national selfinterest led to Charles de Gaulle’s veto of 1963. It would take another decade for another Tory, Edward Heath, to sign up to the Common Market. It has become part of the black legend of the EU, as recounted by Eurosceptics, that Heath lied to the British people by not explaining the full political and constitutional implications of membership. In truth, he stressed the economic aspects of membership over and above other considerations. The deal the UK achieved, particularly relating to the budget and the CAP, was a sub-optimal one primarily as a result of a negotiation strategy which favoured a quick as possible accession to the exclusion of other factors. Heath’s election defeat in 1974 removed the most pro-European prime minister the UK has ever had. His successor as party leader, Margaret Thatcher supported remaining in the EEC in the 1975 referendum that was called by Harold Wilson, the then Labour Prime Minister, in order to placate and deal with divisions in his own party over the EEC. Following defeat at the polls in 1979 and with a swing to the left, Labour eventually supported withdrawal from the Common Market in its 1983 election manifesto. The Conservative administration was thus seen as the ‘European’ party. However the divisions that had beset Wilson were as nothing compared with what Thatcher and Major were to encounter and which continue to haunt the current Conservative Prime Minister. Thatcher’s policy towards Europe would ultimately prove to be one of the major factors in her downfall and created a bitterness that lasted a generation. Her approach was more complex than legend would have us believe. The arguments over the budget in the early eighties gave way to clear cooperation over the Single European Act. She was more than happy to see a market-friendly Europe. It was the spectre of a social, monetary and political EEC that would cost her many senior ministers, divisions within the cabinet and open warfare in her ranks. The debates over the ERM and her clashes with Jacques Delors became part of her mythology as was her ‘No, No, No’ to the Commission’s plans for the EEC’s future and what she saw as socialism by the back door. Her former chancellor and foreign secretary, Geoffrey Howe’s resignation over her European policy in 1990 finally precipitated her ruin. The division between distinct Europhiles and Eurosceptics would also play its part in derailing the Major administration. In hindsight John Major played a stroke of genius by negotiating and ratifying the Maastricht treaty, securing as he did an opt out on the Social Chapter and the single currency. Yet there remained much acrimony among many MPs due to how it was pushed through parliament. The debacle surrounding the UK’s exit from the ERM at the end of 1992 only added to the chagrin of the euro malcontents. This group began, with the support of much of the press, to ridicule Major’s pragmatic ‘wait and see’ policy over the EMU. By 1997 the Major administration was exhausted by the constant in-fighting and lack of discipline; a new, clean, pro-European
  11. 11. Labour was to take full advantage of the Tory division and destroy them politically. There was no contrition on the part of those within his party who Major had called the ‘bastards’. This group of reactionary neo-liberals fanatics had one of the leading roles in the Conservative party’s dance of death, with anti Europeanism being their favourite tune. One Nation is dead, long live stupidity One Nationism is a school of thought which is peculiar to British Conservatism. Its architect, the 19th Century Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli believed that social division and strife should be avoided and ameliorated by a concerned patrician class. In the following century many Tories shared a belief in social cohesion, the role of strong institutions, obligations of classes to one another, reasoned organic change and pragmatism all anchored to a specifically British view of community. The cataclysm of 1997 saw the removal from the ranks of MPs, through retirement or by defeat, of the last of the One Nation Tories who made up the Europhile wing of the Conservative Party. They had entered the Commons in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and many had firsthand experience of the destruction of the continent during the war. They had witnessed the end of the post-war social consensus, they had even served in Thatcher’s governments yet they had retained the pragmatic sense of nation, borne mainly from the class from which they came. Ideological extremism is not a charge that could ever have been levelled at them. Their Europeanism, whilst sincere, was always tempered with good sense and reasoned argument. Thus the party which emerged into the Blair dominated decade was a party that through both design and as a result of New Labour now having stolen many of their clothes was one which seemed to have abandoned the middle ground. Their choice for leader was between the former chancellor Kenneth Clark, the last senior One Nation member in the Commons and the immature Thatcherite William Hague. The clear victory of Hague was in large part due more to Clark’s unapologetic business-like support for the European project rather than the other’s questionable ability. No Tory could have defeated Blair in 2001, yet the spectacle of Hague leading the campaign as a referendum on the Euro seemed small-minded and parochial. His refrain to ‘save the pound’ was seen by the electorate as an irrelevance, and the outcome for him would be that the he would be the first Conservative leader in 80 years not to have been prime minister. This exclusive group of Tory leaders who failed to reach Number 10 became even less exclusive as two other leaders with impeccable Eurosceptic credentials (Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard) failed to defeat the all conquering political destroyer that was New Labour. One Nation was dead and what was left was a party seen as marginalised and irrelevant; not a party of government. For the Conservative Party this was rare, though not unknown. With an institution as old as the Conservative Party one is able to observe patterns in its long history which have repeated themselves for over two centuries. A pattern emerges of ascendency, division and stupidity. For much of its existence the Conservative Party has sought to represent in deeds and manners a particular idea both of what the UK is and how it should be ruled. This is the Conservative Party as the natural party of government, united, pragmatic and electorally effective. For long periods of the 20th century this was the case, the earthquake of Blairism though shallow in content was profound in its ability to push the Tories from the middle ground towards stupidity. Stupidity is a disease that the Tories have always been susceptible to since the time of John Stewart Mill who had them in mind when he employed the word. Stupidity in this context is understood as ignoring electoral survival, taking extreme positions, refusing to accept change as opposed to managing change. This stupidity is a constant threat; it lies below the surface and can flare up at any time. The genius of the Conservative Party was to act as a broad coalition of interest which could coalesce around unwritten rules about how best to manage the difficult balance of government; extremism distracted from the business of ruling. In short if the Torie are not in government their raison d’être ceases to exist, stupidity leads to opposition and Tories are not suited to being a pressure group. This was the case for Toryism until 1997, when even with the Thatcher revolution, the Tories could always seek, feel, persuade and win over the middle ground. Following Blair’s victory the Tories’ failure to win led them into the trap of thinking that by making themselves more and more distinct they would win over their lost voters. However, thirteen years of opposition proved them wrong; they became a caricature of the present day US Republican Party. Division is the third part of this complex historical trinity. The repeal of agricultural protection in the 1840s and tariff reform in the 1900s split the party, leading to electoral defeat and isolation. The division over Europe from the late 1980s onwards has gone a great way to creating both stupidity and division. Granted, ‘Europe’ was not the sole reason for defeat but its effects have been less than benign. However a gradual final purge of the Europhiles during opposition has in some ways resolved any divisions by removing them altogether. Ascendency and a new division Thus in 2005 David Cameron inherited an old and confused party that he sought to bring into the 21st century, accepting if not the content, then at least that the manner of political discourse had changed. In seeking ascendency Cameron needed to keep stupidity in check and pray for unity. By wining office and creating the first peace-time coalition since the 1930s, Cameron has shown himself as a pragmatist. He has modernised, said the right things and was able to capitalise on the situation as the Brown administration finally gave way under the fatigue induced by the failures in the UK’s public finances. Cameron has made the Tories a viable party of government and he showed considerable elan and skill in forming a coalition which had seemed more than improbable on polling day in 2010. Like many of the current Tory hierarchy, he is a professional politician (something rare a generation ago) and he comes from Thatcherite and Eurosceptic roots though he is not beholden to an ideal of ideological constraints. Like his European partners, his main preoccupation in government has been the economy and the debt crisis yet the EU, like the steeples of Ulster, re-emerged in 2010 and has caused him headaches and goes a long way in explaining his approach to the EU. It must be remembered that the core of his party are by nature, inclination and in practice predominantly Eurosceptic, something mirrored by the parliamentary party. As with Major and Thatcher they are more than keen to have their opinions aired. Even though Cameron has sought political capital by adopting a robust stance with the EU, this is still not enough for many. A new division has replaced the old one. Where once the debate was between more or less integration, for or against the Euro we now have a simple split: in or out. The majority of Tory MPs lean towards an exit of the current EU. Heath had warned Major that any attempt to placate and appease the Eurosceptics would fail in that they would never be satisfied. We can see this in those rebellions by MPs over an ‘in-out’ referendum in 2011 and one in relation to EU budget cuts in 2012 as well innumerable statements by many senior Conservatives favouring exit from the community. Thus Conservative politicians, members, and voters are making things difficult for a government which has historically been the most Eurocautious since accession. Much of this division and antipathy towards the EU is manifested in the growth of UKIP which beat the Tories
  12. 12. to third place in a recent byelection. UKIP is having a sizeable impact in Tory heartlands which could well tip the balance in a close election. Some Tory MPs have made overtures to UKIP with the intention of creating an electoral pact. These were dismissed and opposed by the leadership but the mere fact that several MPs are willing to openly discuss such things is telling. Issues of immigration, labour relations, unpopular human rights legislation and social policy all have a significant European dimension; a dimension that bothUKIP and the Tory right are more than willing to remind the government and the popular press. In opposition Cameron promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and a repeal of the Human Rights Act of 1998 which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into English law as well as ceasing to sit with the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. In office he has made three significant and bold moves on EU policy. In 2011 he vetoed treaty changes which were requested by other member states in relation to fiscal rules to deal with the debt crisis; the same action was also linked to Cameron’s opposition to a financial transaction tax. Second was his push for a reduction in the EU budget which he hailed in February with a 3% cut. Finally on the 23rd January 2013 he promised the holy grail for the Eurosceptics, a referendum, albeit one on a renegotiated settlement and only after a general election. Whether his vision for an EU of the single market not the single currency and one of 28 speeds is achievable, it is one which is acceptable, in the meantime, to his party and is popular in the UK. He realises the need for EU membership and in any case he would push for an ‘in’ vote; but this lies in the future. His hope for now is that Europe can be used to mark himself out from both Labour and the LibDems, not from his MPs; for them he prays for silence. Europe was, and can still be, toxic for the Tories; nothing is more guaranteed to animate their ranks than twelve stars on a blue background. It is in this context of Tory survival that we should understand Cameron’s EU politics. Like his more successful predecessors he is a realist, and unlike many in his party, his European policy is based on that realism; one that eschews stupidity. His instincts are not that of a federalist and the rhetoric used is for a home audience; his ultimate aim is to stay in office and it is here where one can discern some Tory credentials, though it is far from clear whether he has achieved any ascendency. Whilst a master of many political tools and still his party’s greatest political asset, he is viewed with diffidence by many in his party who see him as a blue-tinged Blair. In truth, though inheriting the effortless charm and cool that privilege bestows, he lacks the traditional Tory patrician’s ability to take a more long-term, measured and noble picture of his nation and how his role in its wellbeing should be seen through the prism of the Burkian contract between our ancestors and our yet to be born descendents. Those traditional ‘conservative’, subtle, decent Tories have been silenced by the self referential, short-term, opinion poll obsessed political class of today. In such an environment much of what passes for political discourse has become a self-parody; and nowhere is this clearer than in regard to the EU. Yet this caricature is as true of Cameron as it is of its opponents among the other EU capitals. A feature of ‘conservatism’ is the ability to accept and live with failure by forgiving the mistakes of the past and not by pretending they never happened and thus not repeating them in the future. The hubris of a UK unblemished by the problems of the Euro or the procrastinations of self-interested policymakers in the Euro region are both a symptom of this ignorance of failure. In the final analysis, this ignorance should make us question whether or not Cameron is a real Tory and whether critics of Torysim have any idea what they are attacking. Marc Gafarot Holds a degree in Humanities from the Universidad de Navarra, an MSc in European Studies from the London School of Economics and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool. As a journalist and political commentator he has worked from London for Bloomberg LP, in Latin America for Summit Communications and served as a Parliamentary Adviser at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. Gafarot is currently Head of International Relations for Catalan International View. He has written a book on Flanders and Federalism in Belgium called ‘La mort de Bèlgica? La gradual i pacífica emancipació flamenca’ (The Death of Belgium? The Gradual and Peaceful Flemish Emancipation) and co-authored The Student’s Guide to European Integration. First published in Catalan International View Photo by Catalan International View
  13. 13. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter An independent Catalonia within the EU issue #23 - January 2013 OUR CULTURE OUR HISTORY Recuperation and linguistic integration policies Culturcat - Generalitat de Catalunya With the end of the Franco dictatorship and the beginning of self-government in Catalonia and, to a greater or lesser degree, in other areas of the linguistic domain, a process of linguistic recuperation and normalization was begun. The objective was to re-address the devastating effects that the dictatorship had had on the social and institutional situation of Catalan. In Catalonia, the process of linguistic recuperation was commenced with the re-establishment of the Generalitat de Catalunya in 1977 and the later approval, in 1979, of the Statute of Autonomy, which re-established the official nature of the Catalan language, together with that of Spanish, and declared it the language of Catalonia. This legal context allowed for the development of a linguistic policy which was favourable to the recuperation of the Catalan language, and which was propelled with the approval of the first law of linguistic normalization. This first law of normalization, whichwas approved in 1983, had as a priority the objective of recuperating the language in its official uses, in the educational system, and in the means of public communication, as well as to make the institutional support for its social use explicit. With regards to the regulating of the official uses, it established the habitual use of Catalan as the sole language of the different Catalan administrations, it gave legal validity to texts written in this language and accepted Catalan as the language through which the citizen could relate to the different Catalan administrations. Furthermore, it established that the Catalan toponymic forms would be the only valid ones in the whole of the region – excepting the Aran Valley, where the valid ones would be the Aranese ones –. With regards to the educational system it established the bases for the habitual vehicular use of the Catalan language, explicitly impeded the segregation of students for reasons of language, and made Catalan the language of the educational system, as well as guaranteeing the presence of Spanish and the knowledge of both official languages by all of the students when they have finished their obligatory education. In 1998 a new law this time known as the law of linguistic policy, substituted that of 1983, and is still current. This law, although it follows the line of action established in the previous one, is more extensive and more precise. The concept of own language is more developed in the new article, and specifies that the language has preference in administration, business and public services and those that offer services to the public. It is also more explicit in the chapter about linguistic rights and it established the right for all the citizens of Catalonia to know of, to express themselves, and be attended in any of the two co-official languages, in a context which does not discriminate for linguistic reasons. Other points which were not contemplated in the previous legislation and which do appear in this law are the references to the unity of the Catalan language, the documents and civil and mercantile contracts, anthroponomy, industries of the language and information technology, to client services in businesses, to consumer information, signposting and publicity, and the relationship with other regions which speak Catalan, as well as the exterior projection of the language. Moreover, it consolidates the pre-eminent role of Catalan in the rest of ambits already contemplated in the previous text. The organism in charge of the execution and application of these laws which verse upon linguistic policy, as well as the fomenting and promoting of the Catalan language, is the Secretary of Linguistic Policy. With this objective, the organism has, throughout the last twenty-five years, successively started various campaigns of linguistic promotion and awareness which have adapted to the different social situation of Catalan, like for example ‘El català, cosa de tots’ (1982), ‘Depèn de vostè’ (1985-1986), ‘Tu ets mestre’ (2003), ‘Dóna corda al català’ (2005-2007) and ‘Encomana el català’ (2009 onwards). The deep aim of all these campaigns, especially the more recent ones, is to avoid Catalan speakers changing, without a justified reason, from Catalan to Spanish when coming face to face with people who the speaker identifies as a non Catalan speaker, who understands or speaks Catalan, and foment the role of Catalan as a common public language and a welcoming language in a region which today has more linguistic diversity than ever before. With regards to the promotion and use of Catalan in the whole of the region of Catalonia, we must also take into account the role of the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization. This organism has, for the last twenty years, brought together the endeavours of municipalities and other local administrations, and offers a wide range of linguistic services to the whole region, which encompass Catalan courses for adults, linguistic assessment and programmes of linguistic encouragement. Although in Catalonia the legal recognition of the Catalan language, as well as the institutional support and its promotion, has been explicit and continuous since the end of Franco’s regime, we cannot say the same for all areas where Catalan is spoken. In the Valencian region, Catalan has been legally recognised under the denomination of ‘valencià’ [Valencian] and it is considered the official language together with Spanish. The linguistic policies of the Valencian government have not been sufficient to re-address the critical situation of linguistic substitution which is seen in this region and, nowadays, Catalan is showing alarming evolutionary signs. The educational systems, organised by lines, which separate the students in accordance with their language, has not guaranteed that the population finish their education with the skill to be able to equally use both official languages. Parting from the name ‘Valencian’ and from the particularities of the language in that region, linguistic sectionalisation has started to increase, and has even received institutional support, to the point that it has impeded the reception of the Catalan means of communication in the Valencian region. In spite of the efforts of entities and associations which defend the language, it is not sure that the legal and political
  14. 14. situation will positively evolve on a short or long term basis. With regards to the Balearic Islands, the situation is to be found half way between that of Catalonia and that of the Valencian region. Catalan is considered to be the language of the Islands and it is official together with Spanish. Throughout the last twenty years, different measures of linguistic policy have been carried out, which have often been conditioned by the colour of the governing political party. The schooling system is not segregated and it promotes the equal presence of Catalan and Spanish in the classroom. A completely different case is to be found in the Principality of Andorra, which is a country where Catalan is the only official language. Although this does not guarantee an unassailable position from the point of view of the legal and institutional recognition, the actual socio-linguistic situation is very similar to that of Catalonia. The areas where the language is the least protected from a legal point of view and that of linguistic planning are Northern Catalonia, Alguer in Sardinia and especially the ‘Franja d’Aragó’ [Aragon Strip]. First published in Culturcat Photo by Culturcat ISSN: 2014-9093 | Legal deposit: B. 2198-2013