Edinburgh, United Kingdom | The challenges and opportunities of Catalan independence, analysed in Scotland
DIPLOCAT and the University of Edinburgh invited to a debate about Catalonia
On November 26th, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) organised the academic debate “Independence Movements in Europe. Threat or Opportunity for the EU?” in cooperation with the Centre on Constitutional Change of the University of Edinburgh and with presence of the Delegate of the Government of Catalonia to the UK and Ireland, Josep Suàrez Iborra.
Video 1: Welcome and round table: Moving Forward to Independence: Threats and opportunities for Catalonia
The Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change, Michael Keating, and Albert Royo-Mariné, Secretary General of DIPLOCAT, introduced the speakers and opened the debate. Royo-Mariné recalled that Scotland had the opportunity to vote freely and legally on its political future, which remains the wish of the majority of the Catalans. He also wondered about the reaction of the EU if a basic right such as the right to vote was negated to a part of its population.
The first round table presented two different points of view on the current political situation in Catalonia. Professor Luis Moreno, Research Professor at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) from Madrid, qualified independence as a “drama”, and showed himself sceptical regarding the possibilities of a unilateral declaration of independence in Catalonia because of the lack of the necessary majority. Neither does he judge viable a constitutional change in Spain, but trusts in an agreement which would permit Catalonia to contribute more effectively to decision making, along the principles of subsidiarity. While Moreno reckons that independence would trigger a risk of social division, Irene Boada-Montagut, journalist and Lecturer in Spanish and Catalan at the Queen’s University in Belfast, explained that she deems the Catalan people very decided to reach a change and that independence can have positive consequences for Spain as for the EU if it is the outcome of a democratic and pacific process. For Boada-Montagut, the great danger at the moment is the negotiation attitude regarding an existing problem and the lack of communication from the side of the Spanish government.
Video 2: Round table: Self-Determination processes in the EU
The debate then brought together University professors and academics of different European countries, who analysed self-determination processes in the EU from a legal, monetary and trade perspective. David Edward, Professor Emeritus at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, and former Judge of the Court of Justice of the European Communities analysed the remaining of an independent Catalonia within the EU, stating that it would be absurd to imagine that a part of a former member state could be expelled without previous negotiation in case of its independence. Nicolas Levrat, Director of the Global Studies Institute (GSI) of the University of Geneva concentrated on the question of EU citizenship. EU citizenship is a right that, once acquired, as is the case of the Catalans right now, cannot be taken away so easily. He stated that internal enlargement of the EU incorporating an independent Catalonia would be a great chance for the EU to reform and reinforce its democratic legitimacy.
David Bell, Professor of Economics at University of Stirling, then presented the commercial perspectives of a new state, taking into account interdependence of trade, fiscal policy and the Single European market. Bell sees the EU as natural wider market for an independent Catalonia, and recommends to overcome a possible political instability with quality of policies, whilst not being able to foresee with certainty whether the creation of a border would lower the trade with the Spanish state. Finally Xavier Cuadras, Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Business at Pompeu Fabra University, and Director of Escola Superior de Comerç Internacional (ESCI), International Business School, described the monetary implications of independence, analysing in detail the possible models of disconnection of fiscal and monetary systems. A cooperative solution would for Cuadras be the best for Catalonia, Spain and the whole eurozone, maximising the likelihood of policies of stability desired by the market.
In partnership with:
The ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change brings the best of UK social science to the debate about the constitutional future of all of the nations of the UK. Through its own research, and in collaboration with partner organisations domestically and internationally, the centre will examine issues such as the ongoing ramifications of Scotland's independence referendum, the Smith Commission, English Votes for English Laws, suggestions of a federal or confederal future and the UK's evolving relationship with the EU.
Last updated: 1 December 2015