Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All this secession stuff creates problems

Catalonia is unhappy. Actually, they have never been all that happy about being part of Spain but in the last few years they have acquired certain rights, for example that of using their own language, which had been banned under Franco and for some years afterwards. However, they are beginning to feel that the few concessions they have received is not enough. What an ungrateful lot, to be sure. They say they will be calling a referendum on independence next year about the same time that Scotland will have one though the cases are somewhat different: Scotland is not the richest part of the United Kingdom and its independence is unlikely to worry investors too much, whereas the loss of Catalonia will deal a very heavy blow to the already weak Spanish economy.

As EUObserver says:
The secessionist movement in Spain’s wealthiest region gained momentum last week after a million people locked hands to form a 400km human chain on its "border" with Spain.

Some of the organisers called for a referendum while others demanded immediate independence.

The demonstration, held on Catalonia’s national day, was a symbolic reference to the 1989 Baltic Way 600km human chain which demanded independence from the Soviet Union.
The Spanish Prime Minister says that only the Spanish government in Madrid has the right to call a referendum so all these demands are nonsense. (And we know from their attitude to Gibraltar how much attention the Spanish government pays to referendums.)

Another problem has reared its head, as described by the Wall Street Journal and EUObserver.
The European Commission's vice president said Spain's wealthy region of Catalonia would have to leave the European Union if it declared independence, remarks that disappointed many in the growing Catalan secessionist movement.

"If one part of a territory of a member state decides to separate, the separated part isn't a member of the European Union," JoaquĆ­n Almunia said on Monday during a conference in Barcelona, in one of the strongest statements on the issue by a leader of the EU's administrative body.
The EU,as we know is all in favour of strengthening regions just as long as they don't get above themselves and start demanding that they should be seen as member states. After all, what the EU wants to do away is member states, turning them into subsidiary organizations of varying sizes but all integrated into a harmonized EU. They do not want another uppity nation state messing things up at various levels.

Catalan politicians are not happy:
In an op-ed in the New York Times last week, Catalan president Artur Mas described Catalonia as a European Union partner for strengthened political unity, security and economic growth.

He said the region is bound to Spain through history and close family ties, but wants to have more control over its own economy, social services, and politics.

He noted that Catalonia pays out more on average than other regions to the central government but receives less public expenditure per capita in return.

The region fought for the Second Republic in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939, but its defeat led to the Catalan language being outlawed under Francisco Franco’s 40-year military rule.

Catalonia's autonomy and language was not recognised again until 1978.

“Catalans are deeply pro-European and we do not imagine a future outside the European Union,” said Mas in the US op-ed.

Catalonia's pro-independence regional government economics secretary, Andreu Mas-Colell, who attended the Almunia conference, shared the sentiment.

He said Catalans belong inside Europe and that Alumnia’s statement is based on a strict legal reading.
Nor are the Catalans getting much support from those Baltic States they wish to emulate.
The press in Spain had given ample coverage to comments supporting the right of self-determination attributed to Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, who occupies the EU's rotating presidency.

On Monday, Lithuania's Foreign Ministry posted a statement expressing "concern over the tendentious and erroneous interpretation" by the Spanish press over the Lithuanian position.

The statement said, "The Soviet occupation of the Baltic nations cannot be compared with the situation in Spain. Spain is the democratic country, a member of the European Union, our close partner in the EU and NATO."

It said all domestic matters in Spain "should be resolved according to democratic and legal measures that exist within the country, respecting the Constitution."
How will this affect matters in Scotland? As the Scotsman pointed out, this adds to the uncertainty.
The SNP Government hopes to negotiate its EU membership – including opt-outs from the euro, free travel areas and a budget cut – in the period between the referendum in September 2014 and its proposed independence day in March 2016 if Scots vote Yes.

But the future status of an independent Scotland’s place in Europe remains unresolved.
Can we, therefore, assume that any region of any member state breaking away from it loses its place in the European Union? Dear me. Have we not heard from various politicians including Hizonner the Mayor of London that EU membership is harmful to London and especially the City? Well, here is the answer. Let London declare independence from the UK, defenstrate the Westminster politicians and Whitehall civil servants, and the EU will declare that London can no longer be part of it. And the Porcine Aviation Force will take off in large numbers.


  1. "We do not imagine a future outside the European Union."

    Catalonia can't want independence much, then. Reminds me of Salmond's Scotland.

    1. Correct, Ian.

      But then wee Eck is just a delusionist: he thinks the EU will put aside all its rules for accession states - no Schengen, no Euro, and so on - just because, well, because he says so basically. No matter how many times the real leaders of the EU say the opposite.

      The SNP's position is absurd, indefensible, and unsustainable.

    2. They both want to have their cake and eat it, which people is what people usually want. Have all the advantages of being independent and the comfort blanket of the EU as well.

      The Tories have dishonestly hinted at something similar with "In Europe but not ruled by Europe" although they haven't taken it further than a slogan they wheel out occasionally.

      I think the SNP will fail because they haven't thought through the practicalities of leaving the union and people aren't going to want to jump into a void with all sorts of things suddenly undefined and stopping working. This is something people advocating that the UK leave the EU have to address.

      The other thing about the SNP is that they're seen as a palatable alternative to Labour, doing the best for Scotland within the UK. Their support is not necessarily enthusiastic about full independence, or even the dubious position of being independent within the EU.

  2. [Catalonia] "...wants to have more control over its own economy, social services, and politics"

    But also

    "We do not imagine a future outside the European Union."

    Cognitive dissonance, or what?

  3. What is that makes seemingly intelligent people in politics, go completely mad and lose any sense of reality regarding matters EU ?

    These are the people who 'we', the one's who in their view claim that the people would not be able to understand all the issues, and yet get things like this so wrong.

    Catalonia, like the Basque region have their own language, culture and history. If they feel that freedom from Spain is in their interests, they should be allowed to express them.

    1. And your point is? Not only you do not have the courtesy to sign your contribution but you also seem to have misunderstood the posting and the subsequent comments.