Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Catalan Independence

Last weekend saw a symbolic vote for Catalan independence take place in the cities surrounding Barcelona.  I'm going to stay clear of my personal opinions and offer an hypothetical which is hardly discussed when it comes to the issue.

Say Catalunya gains independence from Spain, then what? Does anyone think that the European Union would want to add another state whose finances aren't in order and whose local government has shown a propensity to be corrupt?


  1. As a spaniard, I can't wait for the day they make a real whole region vinculating voting. Not just their friends. I bet 80% at least will say no. Who wants to get a new useless passport and see how many of your relatives and friends become foreign?

    And if it turns out to be favorable, split it and at least shut the fuck up. We are way tired of their victimism. But of course they are not interested on that either. Blaming "Madrid" is too much of a good distraction.

  2. wow - nothing like catalan politics to generate some comments!

    How's it going Tom? So do you really think the EU would accept Catalunya given the current economic environment with the possible bailout of Greece and maybe even Spain? I don't know. I wonder what the autonomy's finances would look like if audited.

    I tend to agree with Alex that it'd be nice to put this up for a vote but neither political part wants that. I also think most would vote to stay with Spain, but hold the vote in twenty years and I think it'd be a different story.

    Any thoughts?

  3. The Generalitat's finances are audited already.

    Your question is: would the EU accept Catalonia as a member? My answer is: of course they would, assuming that Spain had agreed to independence (which is highly unlikely), and assuming Catalonia passed the requirements for entry - which shouldn't be too hard.

    So I don't think your question was particularly controversial. The issue of whether or not Catalonia (let's remember: that's the English name for the place!) should declare independence is a much more complicated one.

  4. Thanks for the update, Tom. And what is the state of the region's finances? I imagine better, but not by much, than the rest of Spain. But I can't find any regional figures to support or refute this hunch, so if you could pass on a link, great!

    Rather than being controversial, I was trying to expand the discussion beyond the nationalistic/cultural arguments because as you said, it's a complicated one. As I understand it, one of the economic arguments for independence is the region would have total control of the tax revenue, but at the same time I imagine government outlays would also rise as a result. would this be a net gain, loss? It seems that the debate is full of passion on both sides but lacks numbers about costs and benefits.

    I do think, though, that the criteria for entering the European Union will become much stricter in the future once this whole economic crisis plays out. And considering the region suffers from many of the same systematic problems Spain faces as a whole, I wonder if it would gain acceptance with tighter conditions and that's excluding France's stance.

    Of course, this is all hypothetical and a what if world. i just think now is a good time for those seeking independence to divert some of that symbolic energy into getting Catalonia's house in order so it could survive as a sustainable independent state because right now I just don't see it economically but politically i'd put the over under on fifteen years.

    This is more a post than a comment. Thanks for the chat. It's been fun and feel free to dispute any of my opinions. You know about this topic better than I. Have you found a place to live yet?

  5. The kind of people advocating independence don't tend to be the cost/benefit types.

    It's kind of like divorce in real-life. The cost of splitting up assets and duplicating services would be immense.

    I remember reading one guy who was complaining that he couldn't get a Catalan-speaking tour guide in Egypt (only Spanish, horror!). If only we were a seperate country he wished, then even Egyptian tour guides would have to learn Catalan.

    I usually just change the topic to something we can all agree on, like that jamon is yummy, starbucks coffees are big and that Barca is doing really well.

  6. Interesting to read these comments now that Catalan Independence seems increasingly like a question of When rather than If!

  7. Well, it won't be the classical definition of independence according to Artur Mas, because as he said that would see Catalunya out of the EU, which means this isn't a Spanish Nationalist argument as I've read in some places. It seems to be the feedback he got in Brussels which is why he's coming up with a new definition of independence but within Spain. To argue semantics while avoiding bigger issues is a very Spanish thing to do;-)