Secessions: negotiated and recognised
DIPLOCAT – International experts debate on independence processes at a conference organised by DIPLOCAT and the Jagiellonian University of Krakow
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) and the Centre for European Studies of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow organised this morning the conference “Self-determination Processes: Challenge or Opportunity for the EU?”. The event took place in the auditorium of this – Poland’s oldest – university, and counted with the presence of Adam Casals, Delegate of the Government of Catalonia to Austria.
The event was opened by Zdzisław Mach, Vice-Rector’s Proxy for Internationalisation of the Centre for European Studies, and Albert Royo-Mariné, Secretary General of DIPLOCAT. In continuation, current Catalan politics were analysed at the first round table. Royo-Mariné explained recent events and qualified the Catalan process as a “unique opportunity for the European Union to show the world how to solve a territorial conflict in a peaceful and democratic way”.
Michal Natorski, Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Liège and Visiting Professor at the College of Europe, Natolin Campus, gave his vision of Catalan identity, very much rooted in its language, and reminded that all secession processes are negotiated and finally accepted if they come to terms in a democratic way. According to him, the Catalan problem results from the shock of legitimacy and legality and the incapacity of the Spanish State to accommodate the autonomy aspirations of the Catalans.
The architect Mariano Gomà, member of the association Catalan Civil Society (Societat Civil Catalana), who was included in the programme at the last moment upon indication of the Spanish Embassy in Poland, also spoke at this round table. Gomà explained that in Catalonia many people are opposed to independence, amongst other reasons because this would imply the automatic expulsion from the European Union and all other international institutions. Gomà opted for a constitutional reform in Spain and a referendum of the Catalan question with participation of all Spanish citizens.
In or out of the EU?
The second part of the conference concentrated on self-determination processes from an EU perspective. Héctor López-Bofill, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, spoke about the internal enlargement of the EU and recalled that there is no written law on what would happen in Catalonia in case of its independence, neither in the sense of an automatic expulsion, nor in the sense of an automatic membership. Taking into account that the EU stands for an “ever closer union”, López-Bofill thinks that a negotiation of max. two years starting from the declaration of independence is the most likely scenario.
Fernando Guirao, Jean Monnet Professor of History at the University Pompeu Fabra, agreed by adding that it would be “absurd” to talk about an automatic expulsion from the EU and showed himself convinced that a hypothetical independent Catalan Republic would remain within the Single Market, use the Euro and that the Catalans would continue to enjoy European citizenship. For Guirao, the worst future scenario would be a unilateral declaration of independence without a clear electoral mandate, as this would make recognition more difficult.
Artur Gruszczak, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, analysed the implications of a possible independence of Catalonia from a security point of view. Starting from the basis that the EU member states would claim a soft transition to avoid risks and uncertainties, Gruszczak stated that any solution leaving Catalonia outside NATO and the EU agencies such as Frontex would be a bad solution. In this sense, he concluded that the right to self-determination in itself does not constitute any specific threat, if the result of its application maintains the existing security structures and levels.