If, in spite of the authoritarian opposition of the Spanish Government, Catalonia wins independence by democratic methods and without violence, it would be a lesson of democracy for Europe and the World.
The question could hardly be raised. The question is not how Catalonia joins the EU, but if it is possible to EXPEL Catalonia from the EU, since, as a part of Spain, Catalonia is currently within the EU (including EU citizenship). So there are two possibilities:
1. Catalonia makes a declaration of independence that is not recognized by Spain. Thus, at this moment Catalonia would still be part of the EU. Regardless of the political tension due to Catalonia’s acts of sovereignty, and the police or legal repression that Catalans might suffer from the Spanish state.
2. Spain recognizes the new situation. This is when the issue of whether Catalonia should be part of the EU or not would be raised. But AT THAT VERY MOMENT Catalonia would be part of the EU, so the question would be “should it be expelled?” First of all, many and unclear legal considerations should be taken into account, which it would probably take years to sort out. Furthermore, would anyone benefit from expelling Catalonia from the EU? Since:
* It would harm Spain itself (70% of Spanish exportations reach the EU through Catalonia).
* For this very same reason, it would damage the overall EU economy. It is also worth pointing out that the EU would lose the most developed region within Spain in many aspects, such as industrial and scientific performance. Though Catalonia has capacity enough to hurt both Spain and the EU, it does not want to do so, and Catalans are enthusiastic supporters of EU.
* After Brexit, the last thing EU should want is seeing more countries leaving the EU.
If, in spite of the authoritarian opposition of the Spanish Government, Catalonia wins independence by democratic methods and without violence, it would be a democratic lesson for Europe and for the world. Democracy should not scare us in any way. The international laws of self-determination are mandatory for all countries that have signed them, such as Spain. Self-determination of all nations, not just colonies.
Are there other EU regions that could demand the same as Catalonia? Maybe, History is dialectical and we must accept political changes, provided they are democratic. But let’s keep in mind that other States may not be as politically blind as Spain, which has practically left independence as the only option Catalonia has. For the EU, the real danger is not Catalonia, but the fanatic nationalism of Spain. When the crash between both Governments occurs, the EU will have to choose whether supporting democracy or authoritarianism.
Mario Ezquerra és investigador del Programa Miguel Servet del ISCIII a l’IDIBAPS.