Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

A Catalan haven

Could an independent Catalonia come to be a new Liechtenstein, shielded from the EU’s norms of fiscal transparency?

At this moment there is no Spanish investor of any kind who considers it possible for Catalonia to secede from Spain. This is the emphatic conclusion of Economy Minister Luis de Guindos, made in recent remarks to Radio SER in which he explained that investors and economic players make their plans and forecasts for the future upon "reasonable and viable hypotheses" and rule out scenarios that would be impossible to realize. This was by way of confirming that investors and economic players, like all others involved in the political process, shape their attitudes, commitments and forecasts, around expectations that they perceive or detect. So that if there seemed to be any expectation that the plan for Catalan secession was possible, the line taken by the investors would remain to be seen.

For this reason, partisans and adversaries of Catalan independence are attempting to warm or cool expectations while continuing the debate on three planes: on the ideological one, weighing up the pros and cons of nationalism; on the political, highlighting the fault lines dividing the electorate; and economic, deliberating the viability of a new state with its debt and its deficit.

But there is also room to consider a fourth plane of debate: that of the possible international investors who would find themselves in a favorable position should the attempt at secession succeed. Because, keeping in mind the volume of resources stowed away in tax havens, can we rule out the existence of interest groups who would be prepared to purchase a European country at the affordable price of 50 billion euros, which is the total of Catalonia's debt? And, in a reciprocal sense, would an independent Catalonia attain greater viability if, placed outside the European Union, it made an advantage of necessity and chose to equip itself with the attractions of a tax haven? Is there some mechanism to hand that might block the attempt of those interest groups to turn Artur Mas, Oriol Junqueras and other pro-independence leaders and like-minded secessionists, into a sort of helpful boy-scout troop to accomplish the political work that most suits their interests? Could an independent Catalonia come to be a new Liechtenstein, shielded from the norms of fiscal transparency adopted by EU member states, and from the cramping mechanisms of banking supervision?

Might Catalonia's favorable geographical situation adorn it with greater attractions in terms of managing the accounts deposited there? Would this give it comparative advantages to compete as a receiver of funds now lodged in remote, less accessible fiscal paradises?

Meanwhile, paraphrasing another Arthur -- in this case Arthur Koestler in his autobiography The Invisible Writing -- we see that exploiting the constitutional liberties our country achieved during the transition to democracy after the death of Franco to the limit in order to destroy them is a principle very easily validated in the secessionist dialectic; and that, when relations with others cease to be guided by mutual trust, and come to be governed by "nationalist vigilance," they soon slip down the slope to "anything goes."

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