Monthly Archives: October 2012

Winning the peace? Just a thought.

Does anyone else get the impression that the PP and PSOE are now positioning themselves for future national elections in Spain rather than the debate over a potential referendum? There’s a shared purpose in words from Rajoy, his barons, Montilla, Rubalcaba, Chacon, etc… and it doesn’t feel like it has anything to do with the debate I hear going on in Catalonia.

PP attacks judge after 25S case thrown out

The Spanish PP has directed a vicious attack against a judge. Again. The judge ruled no criminal offences had been committed by the organisers of the 25S protests in Madrid. A PP spokesman described him as “posh anarchist”, “indecent”, “intolerable”, “unacceptable” and “dreadful”. He also warned that the judge would be personally responsible for any ‘incident’ that happens to any MP.

I say again: a spokesman for the ruling party in Spain, hurling insults at a judge. This is not the sort of thing that should happen in a democracy. But in Spain, justice is cheap and when it goes against you, you insult and threaten the judge. All the more so, it seems, if you’re the government.

Meanwhile, the senior government official in the Comunidad de Madrid has called for the right to protest to be curtailed. It seems that she doesn’t approve of ‘misuse of public space’. She has been campaigning for this since the mid 2000s when thousands of Spaniards were regularly bused in by the PP to protest against the PSOE government. Oh, sorry… no, she hasn’t.

Oh and plus: finance minister Luís de Guindos was in London yesterday, looking for vultures investors to come to Spain and pick over what’s left of the country invest in (…what?). His talk was interrupted by protestors chanting ‘Spain for sale!’. But the worst came when he insisted that Spain wouldn’t need a bailout. The audience laughed in his face.

I’m off to San Francisco this weekend. A 6am flight tomorrow. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Will an independent Catalonia be allowed to join the EU?

One of the central planks of the Spanish nationalist argument against Catalan independence is that upon seceding, Catalonia would be obliged to leave the EU and the Euro. But is this true?

Around the time of the 11S march, various confusing messages could be heard from the European Commission, the EU’s executive body. A day before the march, the EU broke its previous policy of never commenting on the chance of Catalan independence and stated that while no laws exist governing the secession of a region from a member state, if they applied international law in its strictest way, Catalonia would be out of the EU and would have to negotiate reentry. In fact, I think the day before, spokesman Olivier Bailly said the opposite, but I can’t find the quote. Anyway, it was a well-timed message which the Spanish press made the most of, with over 90 stories on Google news. Read more at

Since then Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo has been constantly warning that not only would Catalonia be out, but that it would never get back in. This friendly gesture is one of many the PP has been trying to use in its campaign against secession. The Spanish government, it seems, is following a game plan of “Oh no, a majority of Catalans want to break away… let’s insult them and threaten them so they’ll stay”.

But I digress. Last Sunday saw EU vicepresident Viviane Reding interviewed in the Diario de Sevilla. The interviewer asked her what she thought of the chance of a Catalonia outside Europe. Misunderstanding the question, she responded that she knows Catalonia and thinks it’s a very pro-EU place. The interviewer then clarified the point by reminding her that the Vienna Convention states that any seceding territory immediately secedes from the international agreements of the country from which it’s seceding. Her response was to laugh this argument away. “Come on,” she said, “there’s nothing in international law that says anything like this. Please resolve your internal issues yourselves. I have faith in the European mentality of the Catalans”.

In response to Reding, TFW (Alicia Sánchez-Comacho) stated that in two EU treaties, it is made clear that Catalonia would be out. But looking at those treaties, they say nothing of the sort.

It appears to me that this all comes down to how you read the Vienna Convention. Does it say that Catalonia would have to renounce all international agreements to which Spain is signatory or doesn’t it? And does this even matter, if Mas is really just planning devomax?