Catalonia in the EU, now and in the future
CATALONIA VOTES – On the occasion of Europe Day and in commemoration of the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950
Catalans have been European since the beginning of their history and Catalonia is already fully integrated with the European Union. About 7.5 million Catalan citizens already have the rights of EU citizenship. More than 300,000 EU citizens reside in Catalonia and 5,100 foreign companies are established there. Catalans wish to remain part of the EU and to stay within the Eurozone regardless what they vote on 9 November in terms of their relationship with the Kingdom of Spain. They are fervent Europeans.
If Catalonia were to become an independent country, it will help address some of Europe’s problems. When considered as a separate unit, Catalonia has the seventh highest per capita GDP in the EU. It has a larger population than Bulgaria and twelve other EU member states. If the people of Catalonia choose independence, Catalonia will be an asset to the wider EU economy, able to invest more in its infrastructure, and further improve its competiveness with its dynamic and innovative export-led industries. Its Government will be able to offer more incentives and better regulations to foreign companies to invest there. It will continue to be a driver for growth and a net contributor, not a drain on the EU’s budget.
It is ridiculous to claim that Catalonia, if it becomes independent, will be kept out of the EU “forever”. Unlike other applicant states, Catalonia is in the EU now, as part of Spain, and will remain so until the EU decides otherwise. Will Spain go to the other 27 EU member states, inform them that Catalonia is independent and propose that the EU must therefore expel Catalonia overnight? It took five years to negotiate Greenland’s departure from the then EEC, where all sides agreed that it should leave. Given the longstanding and close economic, cultural and personal links with the rest of Europe, is it really credible to believe that the other 27 EU member states will prefer to expel 7.5 million EU citizens than to find a way of keeping Catalonia inside the Union?
Implementing a decision to change Catalonia’s status will need negotiations, for which Catalonia will be well prepared. It is obvious that a pragmatic solution for Catalonia to remain in the EU, which satisfies everyone, can and will be found when the time comes.
[Picture from Poblet Monastery, November 2012, Catalan News Agency]