BRUSSELS — Catalonia is planning to secede from Spain following the example of Kosovo, European media are reporting this week.
This comes after the province’s authorities said they would call a referendum on self-determination.
Catalan politicians want a new state of the European Union to be “Greater Catalonia” which would include the Balearic Islands, the Valencia region – and perhaps also some border regions toward France.
This policy will be put to the test in a referendum planned for 2014.
Italian newspaper La Stampa writes under the headline “Catalonia like Kosovo” that this Spanish province wants to unilaterally declare independence.
The authorities in Barcelona, especially after a demonstration held by half a million Catalans in favor of independence, and the football derby Barcelona-Real Madrid, during which Catalan fans waved flags and carried a large banner reading, “Independence,” also seeks five billion euros in aid from Madrid to cope with a huge debt of 42 billion euros and a growing budget deficit.
Barcelona is also demanding that in the future, Catalonia, Spain’s wealthiest region, should collect its own taxes, after they calculated that eight percent of Catalonia’s GDP is now being distributed to help other Spanish provinces.
Some commentators are now wondering whether many European and western countries would move to recognize Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence – something impermissible under Spain’s Constitution – just as they recognized “the right of Kosovo” to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia.
The conclusion was unanimous – that they will not – because those countries that have recognized Kosovo insist that it is “a unique case” – although some commentators have noted that this is in fact a policy of double standards and “boomerangs that come back”.
The Iberosphere internet portal, which carries political analysis of events in Spain and Portugal, writes that “It is again time to stop the radicals on both sides. In Kosovo it took a war, or two, to come to this conclusion. This time it would be better to learn from history and act early.”
A unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia is contrary to the provisions of the European Union and the European Commission has made it clear that the secession of Catalonia wouldl mean that the new state would have to apply to be admitted to the EU, which requires a unanimous approval of all member states – and therefore the government in Madrid.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has recently requested that in that case, the European Commission must enforce a fundamental article of the founding act of the EU, the Lisbon Treaty, which prohibits unilateral secessions of regions of full-fledged EU member-states.
The political leader and president of the Catalan government, Arthur Mas, however, said that the referendum question would be, “Do you wish for Catalonia to become a new state of the European Union?”. According to him, this means that Catalonia would not be leaving the EU, but only separating from Spain to became a new state in the organization.
Some commentators suggest that the examples of Catalonia, Scotland, and Flanders could further encourage the always powerful, party violent Basque separatism in Spain, but also similar tendencies in other regions in the EU, such as South Tyrol-Alto Adige in Italy, Corsica in France, and a part of Romania where ethnic Hungarians are a majority.
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