UPDATE: 10/10/17: Is this the day Catalonia declares its independence from Spain? All eyes are on Catalonia as the president of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, is set to address the regional parliament this evening and announce (or not!) Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence.
The last week has seen Catalonia confronted with popular discontent and street demonstrations by both supporters of independence and of a united Spain. While the Catalan authorities have requested international mediation on the issue, European countries such as Germany and France have expressed support for Spanish unity. Rising uncertainty has opened the door to a business exodus from the region, as a growing number of companies have announced their intention to relocate offices. Surprisingly, Artur Mas, former regional leader, and Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona, have openly questioned whether Catalonia is ready for real independence, calling on Mr. Puigdemont to step back and not declare independence (at least, not just yet).
King Felipe VI of Spain has assured, in a speech to all Spaniards and Catalans, that the legitimate powers of the state will guarantee the constitutional order against any declaration of independence by the Catalan authorities. The central government of Mariano Rajoy is awaiting Catalonia’s next move, before deciding on using its strongest “weapon”, an article in the Constitution that would allow taking over full control of the region and suspending Catalonia’s historical Statute of Autonomy.
Is this the day Catalonia declares its independence from Spain? Will it be a formal or just symbolic act? What next for Catalonia?
ORIGINAL 27/09/2017: Will Catalonia’s independence vote even happen? The latest development is that Spanish police will be deployed to prevent people voting in the scheduled independence referendum on 1 October 2017. The Spanish constitutional court has ruled that the referendum is illegal, whereas the regional government maintains that it is permissible under international law.
The situation escalated dramatically when Spain’s Guardia Civil raided regional government offices and arrested officials, seizing 10 million ballot papers and shutting down dozens of referendum websites. Logistically, it now seems impossible to actually hold a free and fair referendum.
So far, the European Union has maintained that this is a national matter for Spain to resolve internally. Is this position sustainable? And what should the EU do if the crisis escalates even further?
On 14 September 2017, we hosted – together with Euronews – a live YouTube interview with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. This is the second year in a row we have hosted the #AskJuncker event, and ahead of the interview we asked our readers to send us in comments and questions to be put to President Juncker.
We had questions sent in from Marhieu and Victor, wondering how the Commission would respond to the upcoming independence referendum on 1 October. Will the Commission officially recognise the results? What would Jean-Claude Juncker say? NOTE: His remarks were made before the Guardia Civil raids.
Should the EU recognise Catalonia’s independence referendum? Or should it stay out of national politics, and let Barcelona and Madrid sort this out between themselves? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!