The presence of a hypothetical independent Catalonia in the European Union has been one of the most-repeated debates in the run-up to the upcoming September 27 regional elections, which are being touted as a de facto plebiscite on possible secession from Spain.
Despite the insistence of pro-independence parties that the region could not be expelled from Europe, Catalan regional premier, Artur Mas – who is running with the Junts pel Sí bloc, which is in favor of independence – admitted during a television interview on Sunday evening that there was a risk of exclusion from the European Union.
There are European states that could throw up more difficulties than there would need to be in the ratification process”
“For Catalonia to be a new state in the EU, the countries would have to ratify it,” he said during an interview on Spanish TV channel La Sexta. “The Spanish state would never do that, and if that happens we have a problem. There are European states that could throw up more difficulties than there would need to be in the ratification process.”
The interview came in the wake of Friday’s Catalonia Day celebrations, which saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of Barcelona for the Diada march to call for independence for the northeastern Spanish region.
According to Mas’s arguments, the need for member states in the EU to accept Catalonia would not, he claimed, necessarily leave it outside during an integration process. “We are already inside, and in the meantime we will remain inside,” he said. “It would not be possible to expel 7.5 million Catalans, all of whom are European citizens.” In “normal” circumstances, he continued, Catalonia would not have any problems continuing inside the EU. “They are pragmatic in Europe,” he concluded.
As well as the risk of being left outside the EU during the ratification process, Mas also admitted that independence could bring problems in terms of bilateral trade between Spain and Catalonia, although he said he believed that the desire on both sides to not lose money would win out in the case of independence.
Mas also responded to recent allegations of illegal funding within his Democratic Convergence of Catalonia party (CDC). “We do not have a corruption problem,” he stated, denying accusations that companies had paid the party three-percent commissions in exchange for regional government contracts. The allegations, he said, “will not be proved,” and concluded by pointing out that in the last 10 years, CDC has not been found guilty of any corrupt practices.
English version by Simon Hunter.