Despite the financial scandal erupting around its former leader and his family the ruling Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party has joined with other nationalist groupings in providing a united front to Spain’s opposition to Catalonia’s referendum on independence tentatively planned for November of this year. While the one-time doyen of conservative Catalan nationalism, the CDC’s Jordi Pujol, tries to explain away years of corruption while in public office his successor and the current head of the regional administration in Barcelona, the hesitant nationalist Artur Mas, has given in to public pressure (and the electoral threat from more progressive rivals) by adopting a harder line with the authoritarian government in Madrid. El País, Spain’s centre-right newspaper, reports on the (temporary?) unity of the Catalan parties when it comes to holding the 2014 plebiscite:
“Leaders from the region’s four pro-independence parties – the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC, one half of the regionally ruling CiU nationalist bloc), the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), the leftist-green ICV and the Popular Unity Candidates (CUP) – delivered a joint lecture at a summer university in Prada de Conflent in the French Pyrenees, and called on Catalans to come out in force on Catalonia National Day on September 11 to express support for the referendum.
They also guaranteed that the poll on self-rule is legal as it issues from a law passed in the regional parliament. Spain’s nationally ruling Popular Party (PP) holds that the vote would be illegal according to the Spanish Constitution.
Despite months of assurances that the vote will take place on November 9, some members of the Catalan executive, in the hands of the CiU nationalist bloc, recently expressed doubts and even suggested the possibility of postponing the poll. This immediately incensed its more radical partner in government, ERC, and other parties with stronger pro-sovereignty positions.”
Meanwhile a new academic report in Scotland supports the position adopted by the ruling SNP government in Edinburgh and others that a vote for independence in September’s referendum would not end the country’s membership of the European Union. From the EU Observer:
“Scotland’s EU membership “is not in any serious doubt” if the country votes for independence, according to new research by constitutional experts.
Published on Wednesday (20 August), the report by Edinburgh University professor Stephen Tierney and Katie Boyle, a constitutional lawyer, on behalf of the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council examines the legal questions facing an independent Scotland.
It says that “the accession of an independent Scotland to the European Union is not in any serious doubt”, even in the likely event the new country is unable to finalise its membership terms in the 18-month window between the 18 September referendum and the Scottish government’s planned declaration of independence in March 2016.
“In the event that formal accession has not been secured by Independence Day, it is likely that temporary provisions will be put in place to ensure that the rights and obligations arising from the EU treaties will continue to apply to Scotland in the interim period,” the report adds.
The report’s findings will be a welcome bump for pro-independence campaigners.”
As I have stated before, quite apart from the legal considerations in terms of EU law, the idea that a recognised region of the European Union whose inhabitants are EU citizens with elected representatives sitting in the European Parliament could be stripped of its EU membership for voting in favour of independence within the European Union is clearly preposterous. It would be politically untenable for Brussels or the EU as a whole to formally strip the Scots of their European citizenship and to eject Scottish MEPs from the parliament without undermining the very foundations upon which the Union itself is based. Every politician, diplomat and bureaucrat in Brussels and Strasbourg knows this to be true; all else is bluff and bluster.
Update: Thanks to Liam Francis Hart for spotting the typo 🙂