VIDEO – The secessionist invites the Catalans to decide on their membership of the EU.
After voting in vain to leave Spain, will the Catalan separatists be called to a referendum to abandon Europe? It is in any case the latest idea launched by the deposed president of the region, the secessionist Carles Puigdemont, candidate for his succession and sudden detractor of the European Union. Puigdemont launched its proposal from Belgium, where he has been living for a month, according to him to make the European institutions aware of the independence cause, according to his opponents to flee the action of justice. The National Audience has placed seven of its former regional ministers in preventive detention, accused in particular of sedition and rebellion, and issued an arrest warrant against him.
In an interview with Israel's Kan public television, Puigdemont called the European Union "a club of decadent and obsolescent states, run by a small group linked to increasingly questionable economic interests." He added that the EU was "insensitive to the violation of human rights because it suits the interests of a post-Franco right", before inviting the Catalans to "decide on their membership of this European Union and in which terms".
A eurosceptic discourse barely nuanced by a precision: Puigdemont considers himself personally favorable to the euro and the EU and will do his best to “transform” the union. The former Catalan president does not specify whether he intends to submit the question of a "Catexit" before or after having implemented the secession of Spain. The latter was proclaimed on October 27 by the pro-independence majority in the regional parliament, but de facto abandoned by its promoters, who did not attempt any effective measure, even to publish the declaration in the Official Journal or to bring the Spanish flag on the roof of the seat of the Catalan government.
If such a referendum took place in a Spanish Catalonia, it would be in vain: a region of a Member State cannot leave a supranational organization on its own. If it were organized in a sovereign country, it would be useless: under the Prodi doctrine, repeated many times by Community leaders, a region which secedes from a Member State would automatically leave the Union. The question to ask the hypothetical independent Catalan citizens would therefore be whether they want their new state to be a candidate not for leaving the EU, but for entering it.
Puigdemont's virulence also contrasts with the entire Europhile history of his movement, the Partit Democrata Europeu Català (PDeCAT), heir to Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) founded in 1974 by Jordi Pujol – president of the region for twenty-three year. Author of the book Auge y declive de la derecha nacionalista (“Rise and decline of the nationalist right”, which retraces the history of CDC and the PDeCAT), political scientist Joan Marcet recalls that “Convergència and pujolism have always been synonymous with europeanism. Puigdemont's statements also contradict his recent call for EU arbitration. It resembles the outburst of a lonely man in Brussels over the lack of support from community leaders.
Electoral motivations cannot be ruled out either. Unlike the last Catalan elections in 2015, the two main pro-independence parties, PDeCAT (right) and ERC (left) are participating separately in the December 21 ballot. “Competition is fierce between the two,” confirms Marcet. This Monday, ERC number two, Marta Rovira, attempted a difficult balancing act: “I don't know if a referendum is necessary, but we never oppose the ballot box. If a majority of Catalans want it, there will be a referendum.” On the other hand, the proposal aroused the outcry of parties hostile to independence and business circles.
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Source: © The Eurosceptic temptation of Puigdemont