Back in May, we asked you whether Scotland should be independent, and put some of your comments to Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith for his reaction (we also picked up on this topic more recently, when we looked at how Scottish independence might affect a possible referendum on EU membership in the UK). However, we might not have to wait as long as 2014 and the Scottish independence referendum before we see the first European member-state start to disintegrate.
On September 11th, 2012, a march in favour of self-determination was held in Catalonia (with city police estimating that up to 1.5 million people took part). Pro-independence activists argue that Catalonia contributes almost 20% of the federal government’s tax revenues, but only receives 14% of federal spending. They are also rankled by the Spanish Constitutional Court’s decision in 2010 to declare part of Catalonia’s 2006 Statute of Autonomy unconstitutional, thereby restricting the region’s autonomous powers.
On September 27th, the Catalan Parliament approved the holding of a referendum on independence from Spain. Critics of independence argue that Catalonia’s interests are better represented by remaining a part of Spain, and point to the current economic uncertainty as further reason for caution. The matter is fast coming to a head, as the Spanish government has announced they will prevent any referendum from taking place.
Recently, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish MEP with the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), courted controversy by suggesting that, if Catalonia continued to agitate for independence, the Spanish government should send in the country’s civil guards to intervene in the “rebellious region”.
The remarks drew condemnation from some MEPs, including from Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt, who said: “These kinds of careless remarks undermine everything democrats have fought for over the past 60 years and have no place in today’s society.”
What do YOU think? Should Catalonia be independent? Or are Catalonia’s interests better represented by remaining a part of Spain? And is now, with so much uncertainty over the economy, really the right time to be having this debate? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.