‘Nothing will stop’ independence vote, says Catalan leader (Interview – EUObserver)
“Nothing will stop” Catalonia’s government from organising an independence referendum on 1 October, and if independence wins, the EU will have to accept it, the Catalan leader has said.
“It will be a moment of realpolitik,” Carles Puigdemont said on Friday (30 June). “It’s in the EU’s interest to find a solution.”
“If a majority of Catalans vote for ‘Yes’, there is a reality, and the European Union must accept reality,” he said, adding that “it is not possible to build Europe without Catalonia.”
The question put to voters will be: “Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a Republic?”
Puigdemont, a 54-year-old former journalist who became president of Catalonia’s regional government in January 2016, announced the date of the referendum last month.
He hails from Junts pel Si (Together for Yes), a centre-right to left, pro-independence coalition that has held a majority in the Catalan parliament since 2015.
“We are a very European nation,” Puigdemont told a group of European journalists over lunch in the Generalitat, the seat of the autonomous government in Barcelona.
He argued that Catalonia was “at the roots of European identity” since Charlemagne, that it would be a net payer to the EU budget and that it is a europhile “model of an EU member state”.
He said that in the case of a vote for independence, his government would start talks with the Spanish government and the EU to try to find an agreement on “how Catalonia can become a fully independent state”.
He admitted that while Spain would “obviously” not recognise Catalonia’s independence, some EU member states would also take “months or years”.
“We know that there will be a transitional period, like in other independence processes,” he said, adding that he would “prefer” the transition to be short, with an agreement with the Spanish government.
So far, no EU country has expressed support for the separatist movement and Puigdemont has not yet met with any EU leaders.
The European Commission has argued that the referendum is a domestic Spanish issue, which concerns its “constitutional order”. The EU executive has refused to comment on the vote and what could follow.
Before a consultation on independence organised in November 2014, the previous commission had said that an independent Catalonia would have to apply separately for EU membership. The same position was expressed earlier this year about Scotland, if it were to become independent from the UK.
Full original article: https://euobserver.com/beyond-brussels/138407