Catalonia and the European Union: EU Capacity for Pragmatic Approaches. Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site. Francesc Cambó Room // Barcelona
Renowned Catalan and European experts who participated today in a conference organised by DIPLOCAT in Barcelona agree that the European Union would integrate an independent Catalonia
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) organised in Barcelona a European conference with the title “Catalonia and the European Union – EU Capacity for Pragmatic Approaches”. The debate focused on the ways the EU would accommodate a hypothetical Catalan state as a territory which already forms part of a member state and which would want to remain integrated in the European structure.
Welcome and Round table: Internal Enlargement of the EU: Continuation, Transition or Expulsion
In his opening speech, Albert Royo, Secretary General of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia welcomed the more than 150 participants in the modernist Sant Pau building by underlining the importance for DIPLOCAT to provide the Catalan citizens with an informed and honest debate on the relations of the EU in a possible future independent state of Catalonia. He then moved on to underline the pragmatism of the EU, mentioning the concrete cases of accession of Cyprus, recognition German reunification or the long, negotiated EU exit of Greenland”.
In the first round table on the “Internal enlargement of the EU: continuation, transition or expulsion”, chaired by Carme Colomina, World News Editor at the Ara newspaper, participated Graham Avery, Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission; Alfonso Gonzàlez Bondia, Dean of the Faculty of Law at Rovira i Virgili University; and Kai-Olaf Lang, Head of the EU Integration Research Division for the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). After reminding that a scenario of the one envisaged is not regulated or foreseen within the EU yet, the experts coincided in thinking that the neutrality of the EU would convert itself into common sense and pragmatism in the case of Catalonia becoming independent. Avery also confirmed that a unilateral declaration of independence would complicate the process, but also said that a permanent “no” to dialogue from Madrid is very difficult to sustain. The experts also underlined that continuation of Catalonia within the EU would benefit all, including Spain.
Round table: A State’s own Monetary System or the Euro as National Currency
A State’s own monetary system or the Euro as national currency was the subject of the second round table, chaired by Xavier Vidal-Folch, journalist and former Deputy Editor of El País newspaper with Angus Armstrong, Director of Macroeconomics at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR); Jordi Galí, Director of the Centre for Research in International Economics (CREI), Pompeu Fabra University; and Jordi Gual, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Economist of the “la Caixa” group. All three agreed on an independent Catalonia benefitting from keeping the EURO, most of all if including a monetary agreement. There was a debate on the part of the Spanish debt an independent Catalonia should assume, and how Catalonia’s access to liquidity would be guaranteed. Galí reminded that in case of the unilateral adoption of the EURO a stable financial system would be needed to access liquidity without problems.
Round table: Access to theEU Single Market
The third round table dealt with the “Access to the EU Single Market”. Following participants took part in the discussion chaired by Ramon Aymerich, Economics Editor at La Vanguardia newspaper: Fernando Guirao, Jean Monnet Professor of History, Department of Economics and Business at Pompeu Fabra University; Thorvaldur Gylfason, Professor of Economics at the University of Iceland; and Jaume Ventura, Senior researcher at CREI, Pompeu Fabra University. In this essential area of the EU, constructive transition solutions would also be foreseen, and it was discarded that an independent Catalonia would remain outside the Single European Market. Apart from the fact that there is no precedent for the expulsion of a country from the Single Market, the negative effects for the global EU economy, for member states (including Spain) and for multinational companies with business in Catalonia would be too serious for contemplation of such a possibility. Existing bilateral agreements with non-EU member states were mentioned as possible transition solutions.
Round table: Citizenship and Rights Acquired before and upon Gaining of Independence
The conviction of a pragmatic approach of the UE was reiterated in the last round table on “Citizenship and rights acquired before and upon gaining independence”. Moderated by Montserrat Radigales, journalist, international correspondent for the El Periódico de Catalunya newspaper, the panel counted with the participation of Jean-Bernard Auby, Director of Mutations de l’Action Publique et du Droit Public («Changes in Governance and Public Law») Chair at Sciences Po; Nicolas Levrat, Director of the Global Studies Institute (GSI), University of Geneva; and Eduard Sagarra, Professor of International Law, University of Barcelona. All speakers coincided in that citizenship is a fundamental right, recognised by international law and which cannot be affected by the good or bad relations between states. The rights of EU citizenship of the Catalans would remain continuous during the negotiation and transition to an independent state.
Roger Albinyana, Secretary for Foreign and European Union Affairs of the Government of Catalonia, closed the conference by supporting the likelihood of a pragmatic answer of the EU if on September 27th the majority of the Catalans voted in favour of independence parties. “The best guarantee for this to stay this way”, he said “is that the current process remains fully democratic, peaceful and legal”.
Last updated: 15 June 2015