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Volume 5, 2021/9, Oct 23, 16 pages  ♦  pdf format 

Sabine Riedel


FPK Logo 1200 x 300 2021 9


  • Introduction
  • Motives und Arguments for a State Independence of Catalonia
  • The Limited Scope of the Separatist Movement at EU level
  • Developments under the Catalan President Quim Torra (2018 – 2021)
  • Developments of the Catalonia conflict since 2018 at European level
  • Prospects for a Solution of the Catalonia Conflict
  • Catalonia’s Future Prospects within the European Union

The 16 pages include:
Analysis, summary, 8 figures and excerpts, 52 references (linked).

The ultimate demand of the Catalan independ-ence movement remains the proclamation of a sovereign Catalan state. To this end, the Catalan National Assembly (Assemblea Nacional Catalana, ANC) was established in 2012 as a kind of parallel body to the regional parliament of the autonomous community. It mobilises civil society through major events in order to increase political pressure on the regional government.

Allthough its influence has grown steadily, no Catalan president has dared to finally secede Catalonia from Spain, including Carles Puigdemont. Even the two proclamations in 1931 and 1934 referred to a Catalan state within the framework of a “federal Spanish republic” or a Spanish federal state. As so, they remained an internal Spanish matter.

In contrast to these historical models, the ANC wants to turn its back on Spain altogether. It relies on international law and claims for Catalonia the right to self-determination. But the decisive question is, on the one hand, whether the Catalans are entitled to this right – after all, they have extensive autonomy rights – and, on the other hand, whether a majority of the EU member states would recognise an independent state.

However, the reaction of the international community to the declaration of independence on 1.10.2017 was clear. No European government showed solidarity with them, not even Kosovo, which has been struggling for international recognition since its declaration of independence on 17.2.2008: Twelve years later, 40 per cent of UN members and five out of 28 EU states still have major reservations.

There were expressions of solidarity from the community of non-recognised states, esp. from the two breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkha-zia and South-Ossetia, whose statehood is only supported by Russia. Regional governments of EU members that want to follow Catalonia’s path to state independence have also shown solidarity, such as Flanders / Belgium, Corsica / France and Sardinia / Italy, not forgetting Scotland/United Kingdom.

In addition, some European parties promote separatist movements, such as the EFA as a Europe-wide network of separatist parties, which forms a parliamentary group with the Greens in European Parliament. But individual national parties such as Die Linke in Germany also support the separatism of the Catalans.

In conclusion, it can be said that the group of supporters for an independent Catalonia has remained small. The majority of democratically elected representatives and all European governments reject such secessionist demands, not least out of concern that they might fall back on them. The Catalan separatists will not receive any further sympathy either if they remain uncompromis-ing towards all offers of dialogue by the Spanish central government. With their intransigence, they could trigger a new economic and financial crisis in Spain that would destabilise the entire Eurozone.

While Carles Puigdemont had already Europeanised the conflict, his successor Quim Torra tried to internationalise it. On 26.9.2018, he published an open letter to the Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez, a copy of which he sent to several political figures, some EU heads of government, the US President Donald Trump, the Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pope Francis.

In it, he calls for mediation under international mediation with the aim of ensuring a peaceful process towards inde-pendence: with a threatening undertone, it says: “It is obviously in the interests of both sides, and of the world, for this process to succeed, since an orderly and peaceful resolution of the situation is the only means remaining to avert a European crisis.” This is an invitation to intervene in inter-nal affairs of Spain and thus also in those of the EU. But no head of state would be a neutral mediator, but would pursue his own interests.

Even in the case of a repeal of the Statute of Autonomy, foreign states would have no right to interfere in this internal conflict. After all, it is not about a “state of emergency” or a “forced administration”. Article 155 of the Spanish constitution may only be used for the purpose of restoring constitutional order. Even in autumn 2017, “no central government commissioner was appointed. […]. The activities of the Catalan government as a collegiate body were authorised by the central government.” The rights of the regional parliament were restricted and its control rights transferred to the Spanish Senate.

This form of centralised territorial administration is the rule even in the democratically constituted EU members or other European states, whereas statutes of autonomy as in Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy, or even federal models as in Germany or Austria, have remained exceptions.

Here the Catalans could prove themselves and constructively contribute to the fact that further European states decentralise themselves and grant their regions more participation rights at national and European level. So far, Barcolona has not played an exemplary role, but rather con-tributed to autonomy statutes falling into disrepute because, following the example of Catalonia, they could endanger the territorial integrity of European states. [P. 13 f.]