Why Catalan Independence Might Be Good for the World

On September 27, Catalonia, an “autonomous community” of Spain, votes in a regional election that will likely determine whether the region declares independence from Spain. The Economist and other global news outlets have generally not taken the movement very seriously, which is a grave mistake. According to a series of new polls, the independentists are likely to win this election, and if they do win, they will pursue a roadmap ending in a proclamation of independence within 18 months. It would be the first secession from an industrialized democracy since either Iceland (1944) or Ireland (1922), depending on how you count (Iceland had full internal self-government from 1918).

Catalan independence may well be a good outcome for the world. There are several reasons why Catalonia is likely to be more successful as an independent state than Scotland would have been.

First, Catalonia is significantly wealthier than the rest of the Spain and suffers a significant annual net fiscal drain to the Spanish treasury, on the order of 6-10% of GDP. Catalonia is also the least corrupt region of Spain.

The stock markets also suggest that independence might benefit or at least not hurt Catalonia. I examined the INDEXCAT produced by the Barcelona stock exchange, an index of all Catalan-owned, publicly traded companies on its exchange, to see how its prices responded to changes in the probability of independence. Since September 11, 2012, when the independence movement reached a popular crescendo on the streets, the INDEXCAT has grown 48.7%, compared to 26.2% for the IBEX 35 index of major Spanish firms, to 31% for the German DAX, to 24.4% for the Dow, and 21.6% for the EUROSTOXX index. This chart produced by the Catalan Business Circle shows that the fastest growth for the INDEXCAT occurred during the period when independence seemed most likely to occur, the late 2012 to late 2013 period when support for independence generally topped 55% of those expressing an opinion in yes-no questions and it still seemed possible a true referendum might be held.
CCN_Indexcat

Then I looked at how the INDEXCAT responded to the recent turnaround in polling for the September 27 elections. After several months of declining support for independence and independentist parties, public opinion started to turn around dramatically just two weeks ago. (Right after I predicted it would!) There have been three “polling shocks” since September 1. (The English-language Wikipedia article on these polls is rapidly and accurately updated.) The first and most significant occurred on the night of September 3, when three polls were released, all showing a pro-independence majority, after a series of July and August polls showing the independentist lists well short. We should expect investors to update their views about the likelihood of independence immediately and to trade on those views as soon as possible. Within a few minutes, the new market prices should reflect the public information. The INDEXCAT dropped just 0.31% between close on September 3 and five minutes after opening on September 4. That is consistent with a small negative impact of independence on major Catalan firms, but let’s look at the other shocks.

On the morning of September 9, a modest negative polling shock occurred, as following a string of four polls showing a clear independentist seats majority, a poll from the respected Spanish government research outfit CIS showed the slenderest of possible majorities for the independentists, just 68 out of 135 seats. It’s hard to figure out exactly when that information went public. A single tweet with the results went out at 9:00 AM exactly, but it seems to have broken an embargo, and those results weren’t confirmed until 9:30. In any event, between 9:00 and 9:10 AM, the INDEXCAT fell 0.22% and didn’t change much over the following hour. These results are consistent with a small positive impact of independence on major Catalan firms.

Finally, over last weekend a new series of polls seemingly have shown the CIS result to be an outlier, once again confirming a clear seats majority for independentists. Between market close on Friday and 9:05 AM Monday, INDEXCAT rose 0.26%. This outcome is consistent with a small positive impact of independence on major Catalan firms.

Unfortunately, I cannot calculate the expected value of independence for publicly traded Catalan firms as I did for Scottish companies, because there are no betting markets on Catalan independence or the majority in the coming election. (Unbelievable but true.) Still, on balance, the results suggest that investors expect Catalan companies to become more, not less, profitable with independence. In turn, that finding implies that the transition costs of independence are excessively hyped.

The second reason why I think Catalan independence may be good for the world is that the Spanish government has not given any concessions to Catalans to prevent them from voting for independence. To the contrary, Spain has tried to recentralize powers and has even hinted at using military force against Catalans (almost certainly a bluff). The contrast with Britain’s response to Scotland could not be stronger. If Catalans vote against independence, it would send a bad signal to Spain: that threats work to deter secessionism. Moreover, it would leave Catalonia and all the other autonomous communities vulnerable to even more severe recentralization policies. Unilateral disarmament more often invites aggression than defuses it.

The final reason why Catalan independence would be good for the world is that Spain’s existing pattern of decentralization is dysfunctional, as just about everyone recognizes. Spain’s autonomous communities racked up excessive debt during the 2000s boom and have required bailouts from the central government (PDF). Those bailouts establish a moral-hazard incentive for autonomous communities to continue profligate spending and rely on the central government for assistance when borrowing becomes difficult. Why did the autonomous communities rack up excessive debt in the first place? Stanford political scientist Jonathan Rodden has shown that when there are no external balanced-budget requirements on lower-level governments in decentralized systems, the only way to encourage fiscal discipline is to require the lower-level governments to pay for their own spending mostly out of own-source revenues and to make credible promises to let these governments go bankrupt if they cannot pay back their bondholders. The bond markets then provide fiscal discipline: subcentral governments maintain fiscal discipline because if they borrow too much, they will end up paying higher interest rates. But what happened in Spain was that the autonomous communities (with the exception of Euskadi and Navarre) had vast spending rights and responsibilities but few sources of independent income. They depended on central government grants, and thus had little incentive to spend the money responsibly. So you got things like this.

If Catalonia leaves Spain, it will be a significant fiscal shock to Spain. One relatively easy way for the Spanish central government to deal with the shock is to reduce transfers to the autonomous communities and allow them more independent taxation powers. The autonomous communities will complain about the burden-shifting, but the more nationalist communities will be happy to enjoy more fiscal autonomy. Moreover, fiscal competition between independent Catalonia and rump Spain could encourage both governments to adopt more efficient and less corrupt policies.

Catalonia isn’t a free-market paradise. For instance, the regional government passed a protectionist law limiting shop hours that the Spanish government wisely overruled. Politics throughout the Mediterranean region are toxic right now, and Catalonia is not immune. The European Central Bank’s unconscionable policies of monetary austerity have kept southern Europe in economic crisis for years, and the region’s voters have turned against wealth creation and free markets as a result. That’s a different problem with different solutions. But in the medium term, would you rather see Catalonia as part of a Spain ruled by a coalition between the corrupt left (PSOE) and the extreme left (Podemos), since the PP will lose the next election, or would you rather see an independent Catalonia in which the largest party has always been of the center-right (Convergence)?

45 thoughts on “Why Catalan Independence Might Be Good for the World

  1. It seems that perhaps PP does not finally lose the elections, and Convergence has actually merged a common list led by a communist.
    But hey, who gives a damn.

    1. First of all, the common list has already clearly stated that Artur Mas will be the president if they achieve the needed majority.

      Second, you say that the list is led by a “communist”. In fact, even if ICV comes from PSUC, nowadays is quite moderate and has hardly ever had any real power in Catalonia. I really doubt that most of their people can be considered communists anymore (I would say eco-lefties similar to Ska Keller’s Greens). Anyways, Romeva is ONLY an icon to represent the plurality of the list, which includes the main center-right party and the main left party (quite moderate and definetely not communists, I may say).

      But hey, you don’t give a damn.

    2. They’ll be the largest party, but there looks almost certain to be a left-wing majority. Granted, things may change before December, but the fundamentals don’t look good for the incumbents.

  2. You raise a large number of points, but you seem to have acquired a number of misconceptions and misperceptions.

    Arthur Mas has stated, as you mention, that an outright majority of seats for Junts pel Sí would be seen as an endorsement of his 18 month timetable for secession discussions, during which time vital matters such as the division of Spain’s national debt, pension rights, double nationality and permanence in the EU would be resolved.

    Why base it on majority of deputies and not on voting percentage?
    1. Voting base is very heavily biased in favour of the rural provinces where secessionists are strong. A deputy from unionist Barcelona requires more than double the votes necessary than one from Lerida. This gives an advantage worth nearly 10 seats to the secessionists.

    2. Arthur Mas has carefully timed the election to coincide with a long holiday weekend that affects nearly half the population, that of the Barcelona area. By no coincidence, this is the segment of the population that is LEAST interested in breaking away from Spain.

    Even taking these two factors into account, the pro-secession platform will struggle to pass 40% of the vote and it is very probable that the platform will not reach the 68 seats necessary for an outright majority. If so, this will be the first time since 1984 that Convergencia plus ERC do not reach this figure.

    Catalonia USED to be the wealthiest part of Spain, with a GDP/person 35% higher than Madrid (1980) and higher salaries. Madrid has had higher salaries for some time and when 2015 ends will have overtaken Catalonia in GDP/person. Check the figures in today’s article in libremercado.com/2015-09-15/.. for corroboration.

    The ‘fiscal drain’ you mention is far smaller than portrayed by secessionists. Even the Catalan government finace minister admitted that it was less than 2bn €, way short of the 16bn € that has become a widely believed myth. That small potential gain would however be wiped out if Catalonia had to finance it’s own debt rather than borrowing from the ‘evil’ central government at near zero interest rate. I recommend that you read Josep Borell’s (ex Spanish finance minister and ex EU President) facinating and just published book that explodes all of the myths and lies regarding Catalonias finance. Note also the just published report from Deutsche Bank on the economic woes that would aflict an independent Catalonia.

    Your claim that Catalonia is less corrupt than the rest of Spain is laughable. It is true that there have been fewer convictions, but this is due to the fact that corruption extends so widely that few are brave enough to denounce cases. Precious central governments have been very happy to cover up or ignore misdoings in Catalonia as a price for parlamentary stability in Madrid. The result has been near total impunity. One case took 15 YEARS in courts before sentences were passed, and the corrupt catalan politicians were promptly pardoned and released from jail.

    You talk of disfunctional decentralisation without recognising that almost no region in the world has as much devolved power as Catalonia has. Laws have been passed that force all regions to limit their deficit.

    There are many ways of improving Catalonia and her economy and that of Spain. An independent Catalonia is not one of them.

    1. All the polls show independentists winning well over 40% of the vote, and the last three polls, on average, show a very tight vote contest between independentists and non-independentists. Of course, some independentist voters vote for non-independentist parties, so it’s possible for a majority of voters to support independence even if independentist parties win just under 50%. Of course, none of this would be a problem if Spain would allow an official plebiscite. And in the end, Catalonia will hold a referendum on the new constitution, so a majority of voters will finally get to have their say.

      As for the long holiday weekend, wouldn’t that increase voter turnout? Perhaps elections work differently in Spain, but in the U.S. elections are held on weekdays, and people who want to increase turnout advocate making election day a holiday.

      Spanish politicians repeatedly say that Catalonia has more powers than other regions around the world, but that’s just not true. If you don’t believe me, just look at the most widely used dataset on regional authority in the scholarly literature: http://www.arjanschakel.nl/regauth_dat.html Catalonia enjoys less autonomy than the Yukon Territory or Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden, just for example. And the Spanish government refuses to consider federal reforms.

      1. Polls:- latest CIS poll 6 days ago shows support for Convergencia+ERC dropping from 45% and 71 deputies to 38% and 60-61 deputies. Even if you factor in the extreme hard-left CUP these values fall from 48% and 74 to 44% and 68. They also indicate a very high number (26%) of undecideds. Very few will vote for independence; they will plump for one or other of the non-secessionist parties, so expect a shock on polling day.

        Plebiscite:- Dictatorships hold plebiscites, democracies hold referendums. A referendum can only be held if the Spanish Parliament approves it and the King signs it. A referendum cannot be held on Catalan independence because it would be thrown out by the Constitutional Tribunal. A constitutional amendment is required first.

        Long holiday weekend:- In Spain elections are held on Sundays in order to maximise turnout and minimize economic disruption. Thursday 24th September is holiday for the Barcelona city region and hundreds of thousands take Friday off to spend a long weekend abroad or in other parts of Spain. Holding elections on the 27th will mean that many tens of thousands will not be able to vote. This obviously impacts the Secessionist vote far less than those who prefer to remain part of Spain. So an unethical choice of election day.

        Federal reforms:- Spain is a far more federal nation than any other European state bar Belgium. So much so that the changes necessary to make Spain a more federal and liberal state should ensure that all Spaniards have equal rights, including the effective right to be educated in the Spanish language.

      2. The CIS survey is an outlier; the average of polls shows JpS+CUP at 70-74 seats and very close to 50% of the vote when undecideds are excluded.

        “Plebiscite” and “referendum” mean the same thing. The Spanish constitutional barriers imply that Catalonia must declare sovereignty first before holding a plebiscite/referendum.

        Voters are not allowed to vote absentee if they are out of town on election day?

        Switzerland is far more decentralized than Spain. Outside Europe, the U.S. and Canada are more decentralized than Spain.

      3. Regarding decentralization in Spain, I would like to make a couple of remarks:

        1- Political or administrative? Spain has a high level of administrative decentralization, and much of it’s administration is done by the local or regional level, this is true. But the political level remains firmly centralized. Many competences of the autonomic administrations are “shared”, meaning that both the central and regional level manage them. This has the effect of the central level controlling those competences whenever it wants, by way of decree or “harmonization” laws. And in case of conflict, this is solved by the Constitutional Tribunal (TC), which is firmly controlled by the main Spanish parties and thus sure to support the central government whenever necessary.
        In other words, in Spain regional governments manage the day-to-day of many public services, but the grand policy decisions are taken by the central government and Parliament. It’s an administrative decentralization, not a political one.

        2- Theoretical or real? The central government and Parliament has the last word about the finances of the regional administrations. It has a great leeway to give funding to one or another region, and in this way it can control wether an administration can implement one policy or not.
        To this you can add the power of the central government to stop regional laws by way of an appeal to the TC, which means immediate suspension of this law until the TC sentences on the matter. Given that sentences can take years, this is an easy way for the central government to delay or completely derail any regional law it pleases. Hardly a sign of real decentralization.

  3. Two phenomenal interviews on the Catalan question:-

    The first, in English, is the BBC interview with the head of the pro-independence coalition, Raul Romeva:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCMdJSJhD5w

    At times he appears to be making up the answers, at times he his just telling bare-faced untruths.

    The second, short and in very easy to understand Spanish, is the interview with the ex-President of the European Parliament, Josep Borell:-

    He very clearly states that in the event of an agreed Secession from Spain, it would automatically cease to be part of the European Union, with devastating economic effects, especially as regards agriculture. Also that a unilateral declaration of independence does not make a region into a state; international recognition, including from the UN, would be required and that no country in the worlds would consider recognising a Catalan State that has unilaterally declared independence.

    Must see videos for all who are interested in Secessionism as a concept.

    1. I saw the first interview and will check out the second. You’re right that Romeva’s interview was something of a trainwreck. But there is a real question here. If Spain insists Catalonia is just part of Spain, how can they expel them from the EU? Expulsion from the EU could happen only if Spain recognizes Catalonia’s independence. And even at that point, “expulsion from the EU” would mean only that Catalonia would not be able to participate in EU institutions, not that they would be excluded from the common market. Hardly a disaster.

      Kosovo has been recognized by many other states after having declared unilateral independence.

      1. Including most of the EU members. Kosovo is not recognized by 5 of the 28 EU states (Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece). But even if several of the EU members don’t even reconize the country, the EU considers Kosovo a candidate for accession to the EU, has signed agreements with Kosovo and Kosovo uses the euro with support from the ECB.

        I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that the EU would take a harder line against an independent Catalonia that would be recognized by all EU members (assuming Spain would recognize the new state so that Catalonia accepts part of Spain’s debt) than against Kosovo, which 5 members not even recognize as an independent state.
        If the EU has helped Kosovo adopt the euro, the same EU will force Catalonia from the euro? Why would they do that?

  4. I would be thrilled if Catalonia obtained independence. What an interesting perspective on the issue.

    Just to participate in the comments a bit, I can’t see why expulsion from the EU would be a problem! Non-EU membership certainly hasn’t hurt any of the non-members I can think of (Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland, etc.)

    1. Let us fantasize for a moment.

      Imagine an overwhelming vote for the Junts pel Sí coalition, say, above 55% of the vote.

      Imagine that the Spanish Government then backs down, changes the Constitution, permits a referendum which the secessionists then win in a clear manner.

      Imagine that the Spanish Government and the Catalan Government reach an agreement on how to split the nation in two; what part of the National debt would belong to Catalonia, who would have to pay the pensions, unemployment and social security benefits for those living in Catalonia.

      Imagine that the Spanish Government even agrees to allow Catalan passport holders to hold dual nationality.

      The fact is that Catalonia, even as a new and newly recognised state, is automatically considered to be outside of the European Union. Catalonia would no longer be covered by ANY existing treaties or agreements. This has been made crystal clear by the Council of Regions and by all of the leading authorities in Europe.

      Catalonia would no longer be covered by the Schengen agreement. Passports and maybe even visas would be necessary in order to visit Spain, France or any other part of Europe.

      Catalonia would no longer be part of Nato, nor of the European Union, nor would it’s farmers receive any support from the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy). Worse, farmers would find that their produce would be subject to import limits and import tariffs, pricing them out of business.

      Catalonia would no longer be part of the Euro, even if it decides to continue using the Euro as it’s currency. Being out of the Euro means that you have no-one to borrow cheaply from and no banker of last resort. Greece was bailed out yet again ONLY because it is part of the Euro. If it had left the EU no-one would have raised a finger let alone a euro.

      Catalonia outside of the Euro zone would have to borrow from the international money markets. With current debt at 60 billion and likely to rise to near 200 billion in any reasonable split resulting from an amicable agreement from Spain it would find it impossible to borrow at anything less than 7%. Any possible fiscal benefit from separation would be more than wiped out just on the increased debt repayments.

      Even assuming a velvet divorce from Spain, as when Czechoslovakia broke up, cross-border commerce with Spain would drop dramatically as customers or clients seek in-country suppliers. Cross-border trade in Czechoslovakia dropped more than 60% in the first two years after the split. Can Catalonia afford to lose THAT much trade?

      What about tourism? This would be the hardest-hit of all Catalonia’s industries. Most clients are from Spain and would balk at visiting a country
      that had betrayed them. The need for a passport would also put many visitors off.

      As you can see, even in the best possible scenario, an independent Catalonia would be an economic disaster only comparable to Kosovo, Transnistria or South Ossetia.

      1. I question your figure for cross-border trade in post-split Czechoslovakia. Border effects are real, but only where there are new legal or practical barriers to trade. Even if Catalonia stands outside the EU for several years through the accession process, I find it highly unlikely that France would erect and staff new customs posts on the Catalan border, and I find it somewhat unlikely that Spain would do so even after a contested secession. If those frontiers are unmanned, then Catalonia effectively remains within the common market for both Schengen and merchandise trade purposes. Yes, there may be some inconveniences associated with port to port export, but whether those inconveniences are trivial or significant depends on whether the governments of the importing markets really want to impose the external tariff on Catalan goods or not.

        Then there remains the question of how the European Court of Justice would rule on the rights of European citizens of Catalan nationality. EU treaties forbid stripping the citizenship of EU citizens. Presumably that would also apply to Catalans who would carry their EU citizenship with them even if their state stood outside the EU.

      2. It’s not the fault of Catalonians that the EU has created a (in my opinion fraudulent) regional monopoly on currency nor that there are tariffs to be concerned with. As far as borrowing, personally I don’t think it’s moral/legitimate for any government to have debt, so I have nothing to say on that matter.

        Of course even though it is speculative I also find it quite hard to believe, as you have stated, that trade with Spain would suddenly collapse upon independence. Humans are still humans, politics aside, with deeply established relationships. I can’t see visitors suddenly refusing to see their favorite hotel/restaurant/bar in Barcelona just because of a vote.

      3. Regarding cross-border commerce, and the famous “border effect”, it has been studied mostly in long-stablished frontiers. This is not the case of a newly independent Catalonia.

        The usual example of Czecholovakia fails to address the fact that the split happened at the same time that the countries were opening their markets to the West after the fall of the Soviet empire. It’s very likely that even if Czechoslovakia had remained united, internal commerce would have diminished as foreign imports and exports took its place.

        If you look at a closer example, the Bank of England, clearly an opponent of Scottish independence, forecasted that its effects on trade with the UK would be insignificant in the short term, and only would grow to be significant after a period of 30 years (which makes the forecast highly speculative, btw). And this for an economy, Scotland, which sells about 75% of its exports to the UK. Catalonia sells only 43% of its exports to Spain.

        In other words, your estimation of the effects of Catalan independence on its trade with Spain is grossly exaggerated, in the line of the political (not economical) messages spread by the Spanish government.

      4. The rest of your assumptions follow too the official Spanish government line, which contains a lot of unbelievable assumptions and even some contradictions.

        If there is an agreement with Spain to share the debt (and assets) of current Spain, why would Catalonia be expelled from the euro zone, Schengen, and even the EU? I assume this agreement would exclude any veto against Catalonia and thus all those organizations would have no incentive to expell Catalonia.
        Actually, they wouldn’t have any such incentive even if Spain wanted to veto Catalonia. Even if Spain could formally veto EU membership, Spain would have no veto power over any bilateral agreement between Catalonia and the EU. These agreements surely would include free movement of trade and people and remaining in the euro zone …everything save presence in EU institutions.

        This situation would have near zero impact on Catalan (and Spanish and EU) economy and citizenship, and thus it would be the best solution for everybody, including Spain. That’s why this is what the EU, pragmatic over all, would surely do: to keep business as usual.

      5. Raymond,

        The EU Council of Regions and ALL leading politicians have made it totally clear that if a region gains independence and becomes a state then it will automatically be outside of the EU and would need to apply to join.

        Just two days ago the official spokesman for the EU reiterated this and reminded everybody that this is the official position since 2004.

        This means that if Spain and the Security Council recognize Catalonia as a state then from that day on Catalonia will no longer be covered by any of the EU treaties. In the same manner it would not be a signatory to ANY of the international treaties and would need to formally apply for membership. This includes NATO.

        Nobody is talking of expelling Catalonia from anywhere. Simply put, if you cease to form part of a state you are no longer covered by any of the treaties of that state. The newly born state then has to sign its own treaties and comply with any entrance criteria; for example to join Nato you need to have some armed forces. This all part and parcel of becoming a new state.

        So, until Catalonia signs the Schengen Treaty, there will HAVE to be border controls, just as there are when you visit the UK. That includes the frontier with Spain. (By the way, Jason, France doesn’t need to build any border posts. They already exist and are fully manned)

        Until Catalonia rejoins the Eurozone its produce would be subject to the standard import tariffs applied to any country not part of the free trade area. It’s banks will no longer be able to borrow Euros from the ECB at the same rate as Euro countries, nor would they be covered by Spain or Europe in the case of a bailout. Farmers will no longer be part of the CAP because you have to sign a treaty to join the EU before you can receive any subsidies. Really, it is not difficult to grasp this concept. Artur Mas, Junqueres, Raül Romeva, Jordi Sanchez of the ANC, have all said this in the past.

        Every political party except for the CUP accepts that leaving the EU, even for a day, would be a disaster. The official line of the Junts Pel Sí (JPS) coalition is that these issues don’t exist, these problems will magically disappear and that ALL of the 28 states will happily agree to let Catalonia join the EU the same day it becomes independent.

        Tell that to the marines!

        Artur Mas and the other JPS leaders are telling outright lies when they say that there are no costs, no difficulties, no risks, just pure sunshine and economic bliss.

        It is profoundly dishonest call a regional election, declare it a plebiscite on staying in Spain, and then refuse to debate the consequences in a rational way.

      6. In 1991 Jacques Delors, then president of the EU (then EC), made it totally clear to Slovenian leaders that the EU would never recognize or accept an independent Slovenia, and he put in much stronger terms than the platitudes of current day leaders. Now Slovenia is a member of the EU. Similar stories exist about the Baltic states.
        What politicians say that they will do and what politicians finally do are often very different things. If you go around believing everything politicians say they are going to do you are in for a lot of disappointments. 😉

        Note too that all those politicians have only talked about EU membership. I already explained that a probable outcome for an independent Catalonia would be expulsion of the EU but immediate signing of billateral treaties (not subject to Spain’s veto) between independent Catalonia and the EU ensuring the same economic and social conditions (free market, free movement) as now.
        Those treaties would be negotiated before Catalonia is recognized as an indepent state. During this time Catalonia would be part of Spain, and thus not subject to any tariffs or restrictions. The day Catalonia is recognized as an indepent state, those treaties are signed and Catalonia’s products and people remains free of tariffs and restrictions. Economic and social impact: zero.

        This is no magical solution. This is the same plan that the SNP had for Scotland, and it is a good example of the type of solutions the EU uses frequently: doing what it’s convenient for its members while barely following the rules thanks to a generous interpretation of those.

        I want to remark that you failed to offer any motive for the EU to want to keep Catalonia out of EU’s market and socieconomic area even for a day. Nobody would benefit from it, all would suffer from it, yet you assume that this is what they would do without a doubt.
        As I explained, the ECB has helped Kosovo adopt the euro. And yet, you are assuming that this very same ECB will refuse to help Catalonia remain in the euro zone. Why? No reason, just because you want it to happen. This is real magical thinking, all the contrary of a rational debate.

        The real dishonesty is on the part of Spanish politicians who insist that the EU will act contrary to the EU’s interests and those of the member states, only because Spain wants them to do that. And it is even more dishonest not to tell Spanish citizens that this attitude of Spain’s government would cause Spain serious economic hardship. Yet, Catalonia would have it worse, but to punish Catalonia (out of spite) Spaniards would have to suffer, and just to gain nothing. Do you assume that all Spaniards would be happy losing one eye if Catalans lose two? I don’t think so.
        Even if they would, do you think EU member states would agree to such a suicide plan, do you really think they would be happy to hurt their themselves only to help Spain get its revenge? This scenario has zero plausibility.

      7. Sorry to disappoint you Raymond, but Kosovo is not yet a state as it has not been recognised as such by the Security Council, despite having been recognised as such by 108 nations.

        You will also be sad to know that Kosovo is not part of the Eurozone, nor has it reached any agreement with the EU to use it, unlike Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican. Catalonia would initially be in the same position as Kosovo, using the Euro but with none of the benefits of belonging to the Euro.

        When you talk of Slovenia, remember that 88% voted for independence, which was declared in 1991 and was followed by a war. Slovenia did not join the EU until 2004 and the Eurozone until 2009.

        If Catalonia became independent with the help and assistance of Spain (very unlikely) it could find itself with the same 13 year wait to join the EU and the same 18 year wait to join the Eurozone.

        You think other states will bend over backwards to let Catalonia in?

        Get real. Every nation in Europe has their own problem regions, provinces that have their own language and history and the desire to break away from the central government. Nobody, absolutely nobody, will bend a single rule to allow Catalonia in for fear of creating a precedent that would later on affect them.

        And in the meantime the banks would have shifted their base to Madrid, as those in Quebec did when the secession came to a referendom and as the Scottish banks and finance houses promised to do in the case of an independent Scotland.

        Catalan independence would be a lose-lose situation for everyone.

  5. Romulo, Kosovo is an independent state for all effects. The EU treats Kosovo as such, as do most other states. Recognition by the Security Council is something with very little effects for Kosovo or any other state. Ask Taiwan if it is an independent state.

    I don’t have time to look for a more authoritative reference, but wiki states it quite clearly:
    “Like Germany, Kosovo switched to the euro on 1 January 2002. The Deutsche Mark remained legal tender in Kosovo until 9 March 2002.
    The change to the euro was achieved in cooperation with the European Central Bank, and several national banks in the Eurozone. By December 2001, about 100 million euro in cash was frontloaded to the Banking and Payments Authority of Kosovo.[3] Kosovo does not mint any coins of its own.”
    If an independent Catalonia uses the euro it will receive the support from the ECB that the ECB decides to give. Given that the ECB supported Kosovo’s adoption of the euro, I see no reason why the ECB would not support Catalonia staying in the eurozone.

    About Slovenia, the threats by Jacques Delors were after the referendum was celebrated, so it seems that % of approval didn’t mind much to him. And I fail to see what the (short) war has to do with any of this. The fact is that six months after the proclamation of independence Slovenia was recognized by the same EC whose president claimed that the EC would never recognize it. It is remarkable that mr. Delors was still president of the EC when it recognized Slovenia. This contradiction with his previous words didn’t seem to bother him much.
    Nowadays Slovenia is a member of the EU (after Slovenia achieved the requisites required by the EU, which took some time for Slovenia but would be immediate for Catalonia; there is no compulsory waiting period, as you seem to believe). Despite the vows from mr. Delors, president of the EC.
    Do you believe the vows and threats from current politicians to be more trustworthy than those from mr. Delors or other politicians of that time? Do you have any reason for that belief?

    Methinks the problem in your reasoning lies on that sentence:
    “You think other states will bend over backwards to let Catalonia in?”
    Not at all. Neither will them bend over backwards to expel Catalonia for its own sake or to please Spain. EU states will do what is convenient for them, for their economies and their citizens. And for this they will bend, rewrite or break any rule they want to, as they have done in the past. Don’t you agree with that?

    Based on that, I claim that it is obviously more convenient for the EU states (including Spain) to keep Catalonia inside the eurozone and Schengen or alternative agreements to the same effect. This would nulify all the negative effects an expulsion of Catalonia would have for Catalonia, Spain and all the EU and would have little or none negative effects of its own. And note that for this they don’t need to break or bend any rule since all this requires is signing bilateral agreements.

    I would like to remark that up to now you have failed to produce any reason for the EU to want to expel Catalonia from its midst. Now you mention the fear of setting a precedent for other independence movements. You seem to believe that fear of the Corse independence movement, for instance, is more serious to France (and Germany!) than the immediate, real and serious economic and social problems than a Catalonia expelled out of the EU would cause. To this I can really say: get real! 😉

    You say Catalonia independence would be a lose-lose situation. But this is true only if Spain and the EU members follow the path you claim they will. If they do what I say this will be a no-lose situation for the EU, and the possible negative effects would be nul or much lesser for Catalonia and Spain (I will not discuss if Catalonia would win or lose as this would be futile).
    Yet, for some reason you insist that the EU members would choose your lose-lose situation over the no-lose situation. This is what I consider magical thinking. 😉

    1. You cannot expel anyone from a club that they don’t belong to!

      There HAS to be an interim period between becoming independent and joining the international bodies such as IMF, UN, EU, NATO, Eurozone, Schengen, EFTA. How long? You think that it is automatic and immediate. It isn’t.

      Does France gain by keeeping Catalonia out of EFTA? Of course it does. And would it like Corsica to follow Catalonia’s example? Of course not!

      You cannot fool us into thinking that there are no risks, no dangers, no drawbacks.

      1. Romulo, Catalonia and Catalan people belongs to the EU, eurozone, Schengen, etc… You can assume that independence means extinction of that relationship, but this is something that EU members will decide, and they will do this considering their interests. As I have shown, their interests lay in Catalonia remaining in all these treaties (with the possible exception of the EU).

        Why the interim period won’t be zero? You assert it won’t, but give no reason for it. There is no reason to keep Catalonia out of the eurozone for a minute, nobody would win anything from it, many people and countries would be hurt by it… and yet you assume the same countries that will be hurt by this exclusion will provoke this exclusion. Why?

        You claim that France would gain by keeping Catalonia out of the EFTA (or common market in whatever treaty). What would it gain? The common market is built on the premise that free market is benefical for all involved. Are you arguing that this holds not true between Catalonia and France (which have quite an intense economic relationship, btw)? Why? No reason.

        About Corsica, no, France would not want it to secede (although quite a number of French would ;-)). I never claimed that. I said that the risk of this happening is small and in the long term, and that it is hugely outweighted by the immediate, real and serious damage an exclusion of Catalonia of the EFTA (etc) would cause to France and to the EU.

        I never said there are no risks. I say that the risks lie in the kind of behaviour you give as granted (and seem to desire), that of a revengeful Spain vetoeing Catalonia out of any international treaty, with the applause of the EU members, eager to hurt themselves just to punish Catalonia.
        On the other hand, the risks of a secession are minimized by the behaviour I describe: adapting to new realities, looking for solutions that minimize damage to everybody involved (even if this requires bending the rules). And this means keeping an independent Catalonia in the economic and social EU area that it now enjoys, to the benefit of both Catalonia and the EU members.

        I assume that the EU states will choose the less risky solution. Out of pure self-interest, not out of any good or ill will. You instead assume they will choose to maximize risks and damages to themselves, for no other reason that fear to remote independence movements. How did you put it? Get rea! 😉

      2. I understand from what you are saying that you completely rule out any possibility of a unilateral declaration of independence like that of Slovenia or Kosovo. You appear to assume that the Spanish Government will do everything in it’s power to assist Catalonia in becoming an independent state.

        What percentage of votes do you consider JPS needs to achieve this Sunday in order to persuade the Spanish government to change the constitution and call a referendum? 30%?, 40?%, 50%, 55%? Don’t include votes for the CUP as they want to leave the Euro and the EU.

      3. Romulo, I fail to see how you can understand that from my text.

        The possibility of a declaration of independence from Catalonia is a real one, specially considering how the Spanish government and politicians have vowed never to allow a referendum. Of course, it’s likely that those vows can turn as void as those of Mr. Delors and others, but one cannot rule out the possibility of short-term short-sighted political gain overruling the long-term interests of Spain and the EU.

        I never assumed that “that the Spanish Government will do everything in it’s power to assist Catalonia in becoming an independent state”, as you put it. It’s clear that it’s not doing so, mucho to the contrary, it’s doing what they believe (rightly or not) will prevent Catalonia from becoming independent, even if this means acting against democartic principles and even Spanish law.

        What I assume is that the Spanish govt. will do what is best for Spain, and this means not trying to keep Catalonia out of the EU economic zone, as this would seriously hurt Spain’s economy.
        I also assume is that, even if Spain’s politicians fail to defend Spain’s interests, the EU will not collaborate in a course of action that would cause serious damage to Catalonia, Spain and the EU, to the benefit of no one. A course of action for which, I must point out, you have given no reason.
        I also assume that the EU will do that regardless if Catalonia’s independence is achieved through a referendum, an unillateral declaration, a pact with Spain or any other means excluding violence. This is what it has done in the past and I see no reason why it should not do the same in the future.
        As I said, I assume that the EU states will choose the less risky solution. Out of pure self-interest, not out of any good or ill will

        Those are my assumptions, and I consider them to be eminently reasonable.

  6. Romulo, reading your comment again, I see what may be the cause of your error. Is it possible that you believe that if an independent Catalonia is excluded from all those institutions and suffers economic hardship, its citizens will want to renounce independence and rejoin Spain?

    If so, I can only say that this is a most extreme example of magical thinking. I don’t know of any case in history in which a country that has just achieved independence, supported by its citizens, will renounce to it. This becomes even more unlikely given that the economic hardship of Catalonia would be caused by the very same Spain to which they would have to come back, something that is unlikely to increase the willingness of Catalans to be governed by Spaniards. And the prospects of that are even worse if you consider that Spain would also suffer severe economic hardship and thus it would not be very attractive for Catalans.

    If you disregard those ideas, if you assume that once achieved, Catalonia’s independence is irreversible, at least for the foreseable future, then it becomes clear that Spain has nothing to gain and much to lose from Catalonia’s exclusion from the economic EU zone.

  7. Romulo, your question about the referendum is quite surprising given that we were talking about the scenario after Catalonia is independent, not about the means to achieve that.

    It’s also surprising that to consider the support for independence you only want to count votes for Junts Pel Sí and not votes for CUP, when CUP is clearly pro-independence. The matter of wether they want to be in the EU or not is entirely another question, one that should be decided in another referendum if necessary. Should we remove from the anti-independence count voters who want to remain in Spain but out of the EU? And out of NATO? And those who want a republic instead of a monarchy? It doesn’t make much sense.

    About the percent, let’s look at historical precedents. The Parti Québécois had 44% of the vote when it held the 1995 referendum in Quebec, and the SNP had 45% in the 2011 election prior of their referendum. Although this seems rather moot: the current Catalan Parliament has about 75% of the votes in favour of a referendum and the Spanish government has ignored this.

    Btw, there is no need to change Spanish Constitution to call a referendum in Catalonia. In Spanish law referendums are purely consultive and they can be called by the central government. And if somebody claims anything to the contrary, the Spanish govt. just has to tell the TC to say it’s within the constitution and problem solved. 😉
    Constitutional change would only be required if Catalans decide to secede and Spain accepts it. That decision would need 50%+1 of the vote, as with most referendums (again the Scotland precedent).

    1. We are talking at cross-purposes.

      The top of the thread was my comment that started thus:-
      “Imagine an overwhelming vote for the Junts pel Sí coalition, say, above 55% of the vote.

      Imagine that the Spanish Government then backs down, changes the Constitution, permits a referendum which the secessionists then win in a clear manner.

      Imagine that the Spanish Government and the Catalan Government reach an agreement on how to split the nation in two; what part of the National debt would belong to Catalonia, who would have to pay the pensions, unemployment and social security benefits for those living in Catalonia.

      Imagine that the Spanish Government even agrees to allow Catalan passport holders to hold dual nationality.”

      Let us call it the best-case scenario.

      Even in this best-case scenario, Catalonia will STILL become a non-member of the EU, EFTA, Schengen and all of the rest of the international treaties. Why? Because it has not signed nor has the power to sign any of those treaties or agreements. As soon as it becomes independent AND RECOGNISED as such then it can request entry to the EU. The EU can then accept or reject the petition and will decide what entry criteria Catalonia will need to fulfill before it can accepted. Once Catalonia fulfills these criteria it can apply to join and will then need acceptance by EVERY existing EU member. Once every member has approved the petition (no guaranties), a date will be set for the entry into the EU. There is NO WAY that this can be considered automatic or counted as a given. It certainly will not be immediate.

      That was the best case scenario. Any scenario that starts with a Universal Declaration of Independence (embraced by the CUP but rejected by Artur Mas and Junts pel Si) will be doomed to utter failure.

      One thing is clear. If the Spanish Government does not recognise Catalonia as a State, no democratic country in the world will recognise it either (see Borell clip earlier). A region does not become independent just by proclaiming independence in the local assembly or from a balcony. Both have been tried and failed. You cannot have a democratic process that breaks the law. As soon as you break the law you lose all democratic legitimacy.

      If you are counting elected representatives rather than votes, may I remind you that on the 8th April 2013 (IIRC), in a vote in the Spanish Congress to hold a Referendum, more Catalan congressmen voted against the referendum than for it.

      Your opinion is important. But the overwhelming weight of expert legal opinion upholds the principle that a constitutional amendment would be required BEFORE any referendum could be held.

      1. Romulo, as I said: Catalonia and Catalan people belongs to the EU, eurozone, Schengen, etc… You can assume that independence means extinction of that relationship, but this is something that EU members will decide, and they will do this considering their interests. As I have shown, their interests lay in Catalonia remaining in all these treaties (with the possible exception of the EU).

        I must add, when you say: “Imagine that the Spanish Government even agrees to allow Catalan passport holders to hold dual nationality.””
        This is not an option for Spain: Spain’s constitution doesn’t allow to rescind Spanish nationality to any Spaniard. So, Spain is forced to preserve Spanish nationality to any catalan who doesn’t renounce that. Even if Spain’s president doesn’t know that. 😉

        Schengen affects citizens with EU nationality. Catalan’s would be able to remain Spanish nationality and thus would be covered by Schengen. Not that it would be necessary, a billateral treaty between Catalonia and the EU giving Catalans the same right as covered by Schengen would probably be signed the same day independence is recognized, as I explained before. But even without that, Catalans would be covered by Schengen as Spanish citizens.

        You also claim that Catalonia’s entry into the EU “certainly will not be immediate”.
        Why? You have no basis on which to make such a claim. The scenario I described, in wich treaties (including possible re-entry into the EU) are negotiated during the interim period and signed the same day independence is proclaimed, is perfectly possible, I would even say it’s the more likely one. Yet you claim it cannot happen. Why? On what basis? As usual, no reason is given for your certainty.

        ” Any scenario that starts with a Universal Declaration of Independence (embraced by the CUP but rejected by Artur Mas and Junts pel Si) will be doomed to utter failure.”

        First, you seem to be unclear about what the different Catalan options embrace. CUP wants an immediate declaration of independence. JxS preferes to open a period of 18 months during which it will build the Catalan state and negotiate with Spain the terms of independence. If Spain refuses to negotiate those terms, then JxS embraces an unillateral declaration of independence as much as CUP.

        Second, the “doomed to utter failure” part is just your prophecy (desire?). Others believe differently, and I would say that with a better knowledge on the matter than yours.

        “If the Spanish Government does not recognise Catalonia as a State, no democratic country in the world will recognise it either ”

        Why do you think so? Because mr. Borrell says so? I must point out that Spain does not recognize Kosovo (neither does Serbia) and yet Kosovo is recognized by 25 of the 28 members of the EU, has signed billateral agreements with the EU, is considered a candidate to ascession to the EU, has adopted the euro with suppport from the ECB and functions in all regards as an independent state,
        Do you have any reason to believe that Catalonia would be treated worse than Kosovo?

        I must remark (again) that you have failed to produce any reason for the EU to exclude Catalonia from its socio-economic area, something that would cause serious economic and social damage to the EU and its member states. Yet, without any reason, you continue to assume that scenario. I must say this is a very clear example of irrational and magical thinking.

        “You cannot have a democratic process that breaks the law”

        Another serious mistake. A law can support democracy or repress it. A democratic process may need to break a law that goes against democracy. And I claim that a law that doesn’t allow the Catalan people to freely vote about its independence is a law that goes against democracy. ¿Don’t you agree?
        Legitimacy comes from the people, not from the laws. The laws gain legitimacy from democracy, not the other way around

        “If you are counting elected representatives rather than votes”.

        May I remind you that I’m not counting anything? 😉

        I’m afraid that you, unable to defend your position on any of the subjects that we were debating, have fallen back to a number of other subjects that, even if related, are entirely different from those we were talking about. You moved to the % of the Parlament needed to demand a referendum,

        However, I cannot resist:
        ” in a vote in the Spanish Congress to hold a Referendum, more Catalan congressmen voted against the referendum than for it”
        Then you can rest easy, if this is the case, more Catalan representatives will vote against independence than in favour of it when the proclamation is debated in the Catalan Parliament.
        Unless the Catalan people decides to give more representatives to the independence parties in the upcoming elections, of course.

        Btw, I’m curious about why you put apart CUP from JxS in your count of votes for independence. You claimed that, I asked for an explanation of your reasons for that, and you have produced none, as seems to be your habit.

        ” the overwhelming weight of expert legal opinion upholds the principle that a constitutional amendment would be required BEFORE any referendum could be held”

        Are you sure? What are you counting, number of experts, or number of politicians that repeat one or other opinion? 😉
        Morevoer, have you found many experts without a stake on the matter who have an oppinion on that?

        As I said, this is a political option, not a legal one. If the main Spanish political parties wanted to hold such a referendum, this would be found totally constitutional by the TC members (nominated by those very same political parties, and the referendum would be held without any legal problem. It’s the utter lack of political will from those Spanish parties (just today mr. Sánchez, leader of PSOE, vowed that he would not allow such a referendum to be included in any constituional reform) what prevents this happening.

        In Canada, its TS claimed that Canada’s constitution didn’t allow self-determination, but that Canada was a democratic country and that the democratic principle in their constitution prevailed over the principle of territorial unity.
        In Spain’s case, you are saying that this is not true, and that the principle of territorial unity prevails over the democratic principle. Unity, even forced, above democracy. This is what you claim that the Spanish constitution says. No more comments needed.

      2. On the point of votes versus seats, I hope the Catalan Government will not proceed with any declaration of independence prior to clear evidence that a majority of Catalonia’s voters favor independence. I understand why it is reasonable to proceed with the roadmap on the basis of a majority of seats only, since some independentist voters will vote for non-independentist parties, but there at least needs to be consistent evidence from opinion surveys that a majority of Catalans support independence over the status quo before the final steps are taken. Otherwise, Catalonia is unlikely to gain recognition from other states.

      3. Jason, the roadmap of Junts Pel Sí, Catalonia’s main proindependence coalition, calls for a period of “nation-building” during which Catalonia will prepare its institutions and write a new constitution. During this period it will be open to negotiation with the Spanish government on the terms of independence. It is assumed that this negotiation could include the cellebration of an independence referendum, which is something the independence parties always have called for.

        This is the only way in which Spain will agree to a referendum. And if even in this situation they refuse to hold such a referendum, I believe this will be more than enough evidence for the international community that the only way to proceed is unilaterally.

        I must point out that this would not be the first state which gains independence just by a proclamation of its parliament, without a referendum.

      4. Yes, I understand the last point. I just don’t think other states will be willing to recognize Catalonia after a unilateral declaration of independence unless there is some kind of evidence, whether referendum or opinion polling, showing that the majority of Catalans support the move.

      5. “Romulo, as I said: Catalonia and Catalan people belongs to the EU, eurozone, Schengen, etc..”

        This is precisely where you are wrong. Catalonia does NOT belong to the EU, Eurozone or Schengen, because Catalonia is not a signatory to these treaties, and CANNOT belong to these institutions until it signs theses Treaties, and it can only apply to join these organisations once it has been recognised as a state by the UN Security Council.

        There is likewise no such thing, legally, as the Catalan people. You could define the Catalan people as being all those of any nationality who are resident in the Catalan region of Spain, such as myself, or use the definition from the Estatut, which limits it to Spanish citizens who are domiciled in these four provinces (which means that Catalans who have moved to Madrid are no longer considered Catalans). Unfortunately, when you refer to the Catalan people you do so in ethnic terms, as if we were some sort of pre-modern wandering tribe.

        You say that Spain cannot take Spanish nationality away and therefore must allow dual nationality. Wrong! I have applied for Spanish nationality and I have been told that I must renounce my British nationality. Unless an agreement is reached, you would be Catalan or Spanish, but not both. And there is nothing to stop the Spanish Government from modifying the clause you mention (written to cover entirely different eventualities) in the Constitution. The last constitutional amendment was drafted and passed in what, three weeks? The Scots were told they would lose their British nationality. Why would Spain be different?

        It would in fact be perfectly normal and internationally accepted for Spain to rescind nationality for all Spaniards resident in Catalonia. It would be in line with what happened in Slovenia, for example. Likewise, in the event of a division between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, pensions would be the very first thing to be transferred to the new state.

        A Catalonia outside of Schengen would be like Morroco. You would HAVE to show your passport, Spanish or otherwise, in order to cross the frontier. Likewise, you would be subject to the same import limitations and tariffs as Algeria, at least until you are accepted into the EFTA.

        As regards EU entry; I repeat, you cannot request entry until you are a state, and ALL 28 member states need to accept your request before negotiations can even begin.

        Kosovo was only recognised by some states (NOT the UN) as independent after a shocking war that ended up with Nato bombarding Serbia. Kosovo can hardly be considered a success story! Do you envision Catalonia as the next Kosovo?

        The rest of your argumentas just follow the same tired dogma that has been accepted as truth by separatists despite its evident fallacies.

      6. Romulo, Catalonia is part of Spain, and as all of Spain belongs to the EU, Catalonia belongs to the EU. You can say that Catalonia is not a member of the EU, but you cannot say that Catalonia doesn’t belong to the EU.

        About wether the EU can apply its treaties to a new country born out of seccession of a current member, this is for EU members to decide. Let me put it clear: they can do whatever they want, regardless of what the treaties say.
        They have done this in the past and they will do this in the future. Much more when the treaties don’t say anything about this, as it’s the case of the secession of a part of a member state.

        “Unfortunately, when you refer to the Catalan people you do so in ethnic terms”

        LOL! 😀 May you point out where have I made such a reference? I believe your prejudices about how the “evil Catalan nationalist” think are making you see things that don’t exist. 😉

        The fact is that there is a Catalan people, something that even the Spanish constituion admits implicitly. And it has a legal recognition, as many laws, including Spanish laws, apply only to Catalans, id est, to Catalan people. You may want to define it one way or another, but its existence is denied only by the most fanatical of Spanish nationalists.

        “You say that Spain cannot take Spanish nationality away and therefore must allow dual nationality. Wrong! I have applied for Spanish nationality and I have been told that I must renounce my British nationality”

        Doubly wrong! You are mistaking an obligation to give Spanish nationality to anybody who asks for it, which certainly doesn’t exist, with an explicit prohibition by the Spanish constitution to deny Spanish nationality to anybody who has it “from origin” (meaning, being born with it).
        Currently all Catalan people have the Spanish nationality, and thus they wouldn’t have to apply for it as you did, they already have it. To prevent Catalan people to have dual nationality the Spanish government would have to remove Spanish nationality from all Catalans, which is something the Spanish constitution forbids very clearly.
        Don’t worry, you are not alone in this misconception: the Spanish President, mr. Rajoy, was recently recorded in an interview showing its utter ignorance about the matter. Which shows how empty are some Spanish threats, that even they don’t know how to implement them.

        “there is nothing to stop the Spanish Government from modifying the clause you mention (written to cover entirely different eventualities) in the Constitution”

        Why would they need to do so if I’m wrong about the constitution forbidding it? 😉
        Sure, they could change the constitution with a modification intended solely to deny Spanish nationality to Catalan people. But
        1- this can only be done after they recognize Catalonia as an independent state. Which would only come after negotiation, which would prevent all the veto etc. etc..
        2- A law aimed just to deny some rights to a specific group of people would make a nice case in the European Court of Human Rights, don’t you think so? 😉

        ” The Scots were told they would lose their British nationality. Why would Spain be different?”
        The Scots had their referendum, why Catalan people cannot have it? One usual answer by Spanish nationalists is that Spanish constitution is different to UK laws. I doubt this is a valid answer to the referendum question, but it certainly is a valid one for the nationality question: the Spanish Constitution forbids it.

        ” Likewise, in the event of a division between Catalonia and the rest of Spain, pensions would be the very first thing to be transferred to the new state”
        Again, we are talking about an agreed split, which removes most of the problems that you say would fall on the new state. No problem with immediate UE membership, no trade barriers or tariffs, no reprisals of any kind… And an agreement such as you describe, by which the Catalan state accepts the obligations to Catalan pensionists, would include a split of the current funds of Spain’s pensions system, which would put Catalan pensionists in the same situation as they enjoy now regarding the funds currently allocated to their pensions, and in a better situation for the future, as Catalonia has more people working per pensionists and a with higher salaries.
        Btw, pensions would not be the very first thing: everything would be transferred, or not, at the same time, as part of a global agreement. And until this agreement is achieved, the Spanish state would have to pay.

        “As regards EU entry; I repeat, you cannot request entry until you are a state, and ALL 28 member states need to accept your request before negotiations can even begin”
        Well, you are already assuming Catalonia is a state since you are talking about Catalan nationality and an agreement between Catalonia and Spain for the split of assets and obligations. So, this point is already covered.
        About all 28 members to agree, if you remove Spain’s opposition (as would be the result of the agreement previosuly referred to), I fail to see why the other 27 would oppose it. I must remind you again that you have provided no reason for that other than the fear of Corse nationalism, which is not very convincing.
        But in any case, I repeat: Not that it would be necessary, a billateral treaty between Catalonia and the EU giving Catalans the same right as covered by Schengen would probably be signed the same day independence is recognized, as I explained before.

        In other words, a Catalonia out of Schengen and the common market will not happen. The members of the EU would not want it because it’s contrary to their economic interests, and the interests of many of their citizens, as I have explained to you repeatedly.
        Yet, you keep assuming that this will happen with all certainty, and you give no reason for that. Was it you who talked about irrational debate and magical thinking? 😉

        “Kosovo was only recognised by some states (NOT the UN) as independent after a shocking war that ended up with Nato bombarding Serbi”

        Do you intend to say that the reason for its recognition was the “shocking war” with Serbia? Do you have any source for that? And in this case, why is it not in the UN, and why Spain doesn’t recognize Kosovo? Was the war not shocking enough for Spain, or for the other members of the UN?
        The recognition of Kosovo, and the lack of it by some, has nothing to do with the way it acceded to independence. It responds only to the interests of the states who recognize it or not. Spain doesn’t recognize Kosovo only because of its internal politics, its fears of Catalan and Basque independence movements. The other members of the EU (those that you claim are so afraid of their own independence movements) have recognized it, and the EU itself collaborates and negotiates with it.
        Do you have any reason why the EU would take a harder position against Catalonia than against Kosovo?

        Btw, do you see Spain as the next Serbia? 😉

        “The rest of your argumentas just follow the same tired dogma that has been accepted as truth by separatists despite its evident fallacies.”

        May you point out what dogma is that? I’m afraid what you call a dogma is probably just an inconvenient (for you) truth, and that what you consider reality is actually your own tired dogma than Spanish nationalists accept as truth despite its evident fallacies. Some of which I have shown here myself and you have been unable to refute, btw. 😉

  8. Jason, I understand your point, but I think you put too much weight on it. I agree than clear evidence of popular support would make things easier, the stronger the better. But given the lack of evidence of strong popular opposition (which clearly doesn’t exist), I think the EU would be more than willing to accept the position of the Catalan govt. as the majority position in Catalonia.

    I believe that the EU defends the democratic principle and that this is an important factor in its recognition or not of a state. But I also believe that the EU defends even more strongly the economic and social interests of its member states and its citizens, even if for this it must disregard to some extent the democratic principle.
    Given that so far the part that is more clearly opposed to the democratic principles is the Spanish state (its refusal to hold a referendum speaks very loudly on that), that the Catalan independence movement has always been pacific and has always demanded a referendum, and that the Catalan govt. that is to pursue seccession has come from democratic elections, the need to prove beyond all doubt that more than 50% of the Catalan people wants seccession could be “forgiven” by the EU member states.

    Mind you, I’m all in favour of a referendum, as are most of Catalan proindependence people. But if the choice is proclaiming independence only with a majority of Parliament, or accepting the status quo imposed by those who won’t allow a referendum, what would you choose?

  9. Rlvspm,

    according to the official statistics of the Pisa report Catalonia is one of the worst regions in Europe when it comes to reading comprehension. I can well believe it.

    You tell me “You can say that Catalonia is not a member of the EU, but you cannot say that Catalonia doesn’t belong to the EU.”

    What I actually said was:-”
    This is precisely where you are wrong. Catalonia does NOT belong to the EU, Eurozone or Schengen, because Catalonia is not a signatory to these treaties, and CANNOT belong to these institutions until it signs theses Treaties, and it can only apply to join these organisations once it has been recognised as a state by the UN Security Council.” In other words, Catalonia is ONLY part of the EU so long as it is part of Spain. If that ever ceases to be the case then Catalonia ceases to belong to ANY treaty that Spain belongs to.

    A treaty ONLY applies to the member States that have signed it and is in NO WAY inherited from a parent state should a region obtain it’s independence from that state.

    You claim that the Catalan people exists; show me the evidence that such a thing exists in real life. The ‘Catalan people’ is a figment of your imagination. At most, you have the definition of the Estatut, ie. ANY Spanish citizen who happens to live in these four provinces, no matter what his origin or mother-tongue

    Let me remind you that my premise for my above comments was that if a fully legal and informed referendum endorsed a separation of Catalonia, then a negotiated settlement might exist, but independence can never come about without constitutional legality.

    You have also failed to understand my comments re: double nationality. According to Spanish law, you cannot retain Spanish nationality if you wish to obtain another one, unless a specific bilateral agreement is reached.

    You have no basis at all for thinking that in the case of an agreed split with Spain all of the other 27 states will agree to EU membership for Catalonia.

    1. Romulo, it’s nice for you to admit that you have lowered Catalonia’s level of reading comprehension in those tests. 😉
      You have totally failed to aprehend the distinction I was making between being a state member of the EU and belonging to the EU. I will try to repeat it in simpler terms:
      1- Catalonia is not a state member of the EU.
      2- Catalonia is part of Spain.
      3- All of Spain, including Catalonia, belongs to the EU.
      4- Thus, Catalonia belongs to the EU.

      Got it now? I hope so, I don’t know how I can put it in an even simpler form. 😉

      Re treaties, you are doubly wrong again. You say: “A treaty ONLY applies to the member States that have signed it and is in NO WAY inherited from a parent state should a region obtain it’s independence from that state”.
      I would like you to refer to Viena Convention, as simple proof of how wrong you can be when you make such sweeping statements. Things are not that simple as you would like them.

      But this is again irrelevant: I never talked about Catalonia inheriting anything. I always talked about the member of those treaties making it possible for Catalonia to remain in, or immediately reenter, those treaties. Which is something that those member states can do, which is in their interest to do, and which they have no reason not to do (and you have failed to provide any for quite a number of days already).
      As I put it: Let me put it clear: they can do whatever they want, regardless of what the treaties say. They have done this in the past and they will do this in the future

      You want evidence about the existence of the Catalan people? You had it yesterday. Of course, you can deny that it exists as much as you want. After all, it was you who talked about clinging to old nationalist dogmas and rejecting reality, and you are providing yourself as a good example of that. Let me just point out to you that even the Spanish constitution refers to the “peoples of Spain”, in plural. But this is just a figment of my imagination, sure. If you don’t like it, it cannot exist. 😉

      “Let me remind you that my premise for my above comments was that if a fully legal and informed referendum endorsed a separation of Catalonia, then a negotiated settlement might exist,”
      Is it? Then it’s funny that from this premise, which includes recognition from Spain and thus the avoidance of any veto from it, you reach the conclusion that Catalonia would not be recognized by other states and denied acceptance in all those treaties. Is there any logic for that? You failed to present any.

      ” independence can never come about without constitutional legality”
      Must I again point out the number of states whose independence came about without constitutional legality, and which now are recognized by most or all other states, including some that now belong to the EU?
      The things that you insist are impossible have an habit of happening again and again. 😉

      “You have also failed to understand my comments re: double nationality. According to Spanish law, you cannot retain Spanish nationality if you wish to obtain another one”
      I have understood your comment perfectly. It is you who failed to say previously what you are saying now. I quote:
      “I have applied for Spanish nationality and I have been told that I must renounce my British nationality”
      Id est, you don’t have a Spanish nationality to retain, you are applying to acquire one. As I pointed out, this is not the case for Catalan people, who already have a Spanish nationality.
      And if Spanish law were to work as you say, this would be against the Constitution, which says very clearly that you cannot remove Spanish nationality from anybody born with it. Are you saying that there is a Spanish law that contradicts Spanish constitution? It would be a most terrible and unlawful situation, wouldn’t it? Maybe the problem is that you fail to understand how Spanish law work?

      “You have no basis at all for thinking that in the case of an agreed split with Spain all of the other 27 states will agree to EU membership for Catalonia.”

      I have a very convincing basis that I have explained repeatedly: it is in the best interests of the member states and their citizens. If not EU membership, which is not so important, for sure they will want to keep Catalonia in the common market and the Schengen area.
      In other words, a Catalonia out of Schengen and the common market will not happen. The members of the EU would not want it because it’s contrary to their economic interests, and the interests of many of their citizens, as I have explained to you repeatedly.

      It is you who have no basis at all for thinking that any EU member state would want to expell Catalonia from Schengen and the common market. It is you who have not provided any reason for any member state to favour such an exclusion. Save for the terrible fears of the Corse independence movement. 😉

      1. You persist in believing the lies that have been promoted from the Pro-independence camp. There is NO WAY that Catalonia can guarantee anything from it’s bid for independence. It can only hope and pray for the best.

        Your belief that Catalonia would not leave the EU or Schengen is just that, a belief. A belief that flies in the face of reason. A belief that has become an unquestionable act of faith.

        I cannot argue with somebody who defies all attempts at rational discussion and counters evident facts with dogma.

  10. Well Jason,

    you and a sizeable part of the population of the spanish provinces of Catalonia have had their wish; a full-blown, official, legal and scrutinised plebiscite on whether to push ahead for independence.

    As the last votes trickled in last night it was clear that the pro-independence camp had lost, with just 47.8% of the vote. This, despite the very careful timing, starting with a pro-independence festival and ending on a weekend guaranteed to find many anti-secessionists away from home; despite 5 years of intensive separatist propaganda in all publicly-owned or subsidised TVs, Radios, e-zines and Press; despite some of the most blatant lies ever offered to a gullible public.

    Last night in Barcelona you couldn’t here even a dog bark; streets that should have been full of madly-cheering flag-waving, horn-tooting, firecracking, champagne-swigging, sardana-dancing independentists were eerily silent, similar to when Barcelona Football Club went down to a crushing 5-0 defeat in the European finals some years back. You could have heard a pin drop.

    Artur Mas and some of his list put on a brave face and screamed that they had achieved victory, but all over Catalonia secessionists switched off their televisions and went to bed, the Cava untouched in the wine cooler.

    This mourning the leader of the extreme radical anti-european left acknowledged that with less than 50% of the popular vote a Unilateral Declaration of Independence was out of the question, announced that Mas would not be President and invited Convergencia to propose a candidate untouched by corruption allegations.

    Sure, 72 deputies between the extreme left and the independence platform is a majority in seats (because of the ludicrous non-proportional seat allocation system) but it represents a sharp drop of 9 deputies compared to the same parties in the outgoing legislature. The Podemos-backed hard left coalition had a massive disappointment, with just 11 seats compared to the 13 that they had had previously and the 20-21 they had hoped for. Rajoy’s PP dropped substantially to just 11, and the Socialists have yet to find their floor, dropping from 52 seats to 16 in just 12 years.

    The constitutionalist, anti-secessionist, liberal-reformist, centre-left Citizens party, that barely scraped in 2 elections ago and which had 3 deputies in 2012, have claimed 25 seats, shoving aside the Socialist party to become the most-voted non-independentist party in almost every town and city, most especially in the over-populated urban areas that were once the Socialist’s private fief.

    No-one can predict at this stage what kind of (miss)government might emerge, nor with what program, but the independence movement is currently in shock and reappraisal.

    Romulo

    1. It looks as if a slight majority of Catalans support independence, once you add in the independentists who voted for Unio, CSQEP, and PACMA, but without an absolute majority in this election there clearly can’t be a declaration of independence. I think what will happen is that JxS and CUP will negotiate a clear yes-no referendum while building the institutions of state. In some ways this is the worst possible result because it prolongs the uncertainty about the ultimate outcome.

  11. In which case you would have to take away from the pro-independence vote those hundreds of thousands of voters who want a better fiscal deal for Catalonia but would in no way back an independent Catalonia outside of the EU,

    1. You’re assuming that the Junts pel Si voters (CUP wants out of the EU) believe that they would be out of the EU, but the fact that they voted for Junts pel Si suggests that they don’t. And I’m not so sure this threat is a winning strategy for the Spanish state. If the Spanish state is willing to take that kind of revenge on Catalonia for independence, what will it do to a supine Catalonia that doesn’t push for independence?

      1. Jason, no one is talking of revenge here. It is brutally simple. ANY region that gains independence becomes a state in its own right and must apply to join the EU.

        My fantasy premise above was that Spain would do its level best to assist Catalonia to enter the EU. Even in this scenario, Catalonia MUST start without the pale and must apply for entry, possibly accelerated entry.

        Remember, ALL EU states have to approve the application. No-one can possibly guarantee a speedy entry for Catalonia.

        There are a number of polls that show a large number of independentists would not vote for a EU exit.

      2. Let me try to explain this using an analogy.

        Miami Beach is fed up of being governed by Republicans and paying too much in taxes to the pensioners in the panhandle counties. They convert a local election into a plebiscite and demand to become an independent state with their own passports.

        However, they want to hang on to the dollar, keep the Fed as lender of last resort and backer of any loans they make; they want to have dual USA/Miami nationality AND to retain all of their USA pension, Medicare and unemployment benefits.

        Additionally, they want the US Constitution amended in such a way that Miami Beach becomes an independent State associated to the United States in such a way as to obtain all of the advantages and none of the drawbacks, like paying taxes. Put this way it doesn’t sound very fair, does it?

        Imagine the Governor of Florida and the President of the USA saying ‘sure, no problem, but remember, EVERY state in the Union has to ratify the Constitutional Amendment before this can happen. Until that happens, you are a foreign nation and will have to be treated as such.’

        The same is true for any EU region that becomes independent. It automatically ceases to belong to a EU member state and thus of the EU itself.

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