The Catalan independence process is strongly European
As the date of the Catalan independence vote approaches, we will publish every day from today until 7 November one reason why we consider that the Catalan vote should be of the highest interest to the European Union institutions, its member states and the European Union citizens.
Catalonia has been at the heart of the construction of Europe since the time of Charlemagne. The Catalan process of self-determination does not go against Europe, contrary to what has been suggested by some, but rather in favour of Europe and its federalisation. By organising a vote in accordance with popular aspirations for self-determination, Catalonia is contributing to a better and more democratic Europe.
We will be updating this text every day with a new reason. We also invite you to share and provide comments on our Facebook page about why you think the Catalan political process should matter to Europe. You can also participate on Twitter using the hashtag #Cataloniamattersbecause.
Reason 10: #Cataloniamattersbecause it demonstrates a commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflicts
The Catalan self-determination movement, like the Scottish one, is fundamentally about better representation for the citizens’ distinct interests and a better accommodation of a nation within the European Union. In other words, it is about higher-quality democracy.
The Catalan vote can help fight the ideological battle against those who use force to change borders.
Unfortunately, however, the Government of Spain is undermining this by refusing to address the political issue of self-determination with the political tools available in democracy.
Reason 9: #Cataloniamattersbecause it would bring economic improvement for Catalonia, Spain and Europe
Catalonia, being one the economic powerhouses of Spain, does not benefit from the economies of scale which being part of Spain should bring; in fact, it is being held back by Spain’s failure to introduce economic reforms and its policy of centralisation in infrastructure investments.
Whatever the outcome of the Catalan vote, a process of negotiation between Catalonia and Spain institutions would lead to either a reformed Spain or to Catalan independence within Europe.
This would allow Catalonia to invest in infrastructure that would help it to integrate better into European markets, lead to more foreign direct investment, and introduce reforms which would make it easier to establish new companies. These factors would have a positive impact on jobs and hence prosperity, and help drive the economic recovery in both Catalonia and neighbouring areas in both Spain and the rest of the European Union.
Reason 8: #Cataloniamattersbecause the Catalan vote would resolve uncertainty
Catalonia’s will for self-determination will not disappear if Spain blocks the 9 November vote. Support for independence will continue to grow if it is not allowed to express itself democratically.
Impeding the vote leaves the region in uncertainty and doubt, creating adverse effects for the entire EU.
Reason 7: #Cataloniamattersbecause if the Catalan vote is blocked, yours could be next
Opinion polls consistently show that self-determination is the established will of the people of Catalonia – in all recent surveys more than 80% support a referendum, and around 55% support independence. This process is not some crazy idea of Catalan political leaders, using it to gain some minor concessions from Madrid. It is the clear and unwavering demand of a great majority of the diverse people of Catalonia.
If citizens of the European Union, like the Catalans, are denied by a Member State not only of their right to decide on their political future peacefully and democratically, but their right to freely express their opinions in a non-binding consultation; what guarantees are there that the right to vote of other EU citizens could not be denied next?
Reason 6: #Cataloniamattersbecause it shows commitment to multiculturalism
Catalonia has a strong cultural identity and it is also the only part of Spain with three official languages (Catalan, Occitan / Aranese, Spanish). Catalonia will remain committed to this cultural and linguistic diversity regardless of what happens in the future.
And it also has an enduring tradition of integrating newly-arrived residents from other cultures. 20% of the 7,5 million citizens of Catalonia today were born in other countries, and another 20% was born in other parts of Spain. Add to this the significant part of the population who are the children or grandchildren of immigrants, and Catalonia is thus multicultural and has successfully integrated over a million newcomers since 2000 alone.
It is a testament to this fact that all legal foreign residents who are at least 16 years old and whose ID card states that they live in Catalonia will have the right to participate in the 9 November vote.
Reason 5: #Cataloniamattersbecause it helps to avoid a two-speed democracy in Europe
If Scotland has been able to have a say on its political future, why should European citizens tolerate a different treatment for Catalonia? What is valid for some – democracy/vote (Scotland etc.) – should be available to all.
The Scottish Referendum set the benchmark for how to deal with self-determination: by peaceful, democratic means in which there is open debate about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
This contrasts starkly with Spain: where Madrid has hitherto refused to countenance any form of democratic vote, using legal arguments to dodge the issue, rather than looking for solutions. The Spanish Government could have delegated the powers to call an official, Scottish-style referendum but it refused to do so.
We acknowledge that each member state of the Union has specific historical roots but it is time for a common democratic approach to conflict resolution across Europe. We must live up to the same level of democracy.
Let us remember that Europe has other recent precedents for peaceful self-determination referendums. Montenegro duly did so in 2006, in a referendum where the threshold of 55% had been agreed with the EU, which also supervised the process closely.
Reason 4: #Cataloniamattersbecause embodies the principle of subsidiarity
Catalonia’s self-determination process is an embodiment of the fundamental EU principle of subsidiarity, whereby Catalans are set to decide for themselves if decision-making could be improved and more efficient if taken closer to the citizens, rather than in Madrid.
Some argue that the traditional model favouring large states (and internal economies) is no longer necessary or relevant in today’s Europe. In the current framework of the EU, the question of where certain decisions are taken is important.
Faced with a central government in Madrid that is undertaking an unequivocal process of re-centralisation, many in Catalonia feel that the centre of decision-making should be questioned; and the best and only way that this distribution of decision-making competences should be determined rationally and coherently is by consulting the people.
In general, Catalans seem to be in favour of more European integration, many just think that the citizens’ connection to Brussels might improve and be strengthened if it did not pass through a government that persistently takes decisions that are a direct affront to Catalan autonomy, culture, infrastructure, language, etc. In any case, what is considered an efficient distribution of decision-making power has to be determined by the preferences of the people in order to be legitimate and, thus, genuinely efficient.
The validity and importance of the principle of subsidiarity should not be limited to EU competences. The supranational framework of the EU should incline us to evaluate where political decisions should be taken. It is irrational that the centuries-old path-dependence of States should impose where economic, cultural, and social decisions affecting citizens are made.
Reason 3: #Cataloniamattersbecause it helps resolve the status of the biggest stateless nation within the European Union
Catalonia has been part of Europe since the time of Charlemagne. Since then, many new nations in Europe have emerged, and others have disappeared, not always through peaceful means.
Currently, the Catalan language is the largest language within the EU that is not granted official language status within the EU institutions (10 million active speakers in and outside Catalonia). This is due to Spain’s policy of not openly recognizing its multiculturalism.
By voting in a referendum, Catalonia’s citizens would freely express what they want for their political future and possibly becoming a new European State. This would resolve the status of the biggest stateless nation in the European Union, a nation which has neither disappeared nor has it attained the level of statehood achieved by most European nations in the last 200 years.
Reason 2: #Cataloniamattersbecause it helps Spain to improve its democracy
Today Spain is a consolidated European democracy, albeit still a relatively young one. However, the 40-year memories of the Franco dictatorship and a poorly resolved transition are still very present in the state’s structure and the mentality of the governing class. A state where Francoist symbols are still present and accepted and Francisco Franco still has a mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen (‘Valle de los Caídos’), where he is honoured every year, is a state with evident democratic deficiencies. Why did Germany outlaw the relics of Nazism while Spain doesn’t do so with those of Hitler’s ally, the Franco dictatorship?
This Spanish state is the one that irresponsibly blocks Catalonia’s vote, undermining Spain’s democratic progress with regard to the rest of the Western world, and in stark contrast to the attitude of the United Kingdom or Canada when faced with similar cases. It does so inadequately employing legalist excuses and shielding behind an ostensibly neutral Constitutional Court, presided by a former card-carrying member of the governing Popular Party, who in public conferences and published books has demonstrated being openly offensive towards Catalonia.
With Catalonia’s commitment to resolving territorial conflicts peacefully through ballot boxes there’s a precedent for democratic culture being employed in Spain to resolve conflicts, not limited to issues of self-determination. Some regions, like the Canary Islands with its conflict on oil prospections near its shores, are already taking good note of that.
Reason 1: #Cataloniamattersbecause it shows commitment to EU Values
Catalonia wishes to remain part of the EU and to stay in the Eurozone regardless of their vote. Independentist Catalans are avid Europeans and Catalonia has been at the heart of building Europe for centuries.
In times of growing Euro-scepticism, the view that the EU suffers from a democratic deficit is increasingly problematic. Political statements threatening strongly pro-European EU citizens with exclusion from the Union are also unfortunate, to say the least. However, Catalans democratically casting their vote within the framework of the EU helps reduce this perceived gap between citizens and EU institutions while reaffirming essential EU values. At a time when fellow EU citizens in Hungary are seeing their freedoms curtailed, it would help if the EU committed more strongly to fundamental democratic values.
Source: Catalonia Votes.