Any independent Catalan state would undoubtedly find itself outside the European Union. This has now been determined beyond doubt and it is important that the Catalans know it. We have a statement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that unequivocally places Catalonia outside the organisation. Mr Juncker said that an independent Catalonia would have to apply to join the European Union just like any other new state.
In the past there have been rather dubious claims by pro-independence Catalan establishment, including Raul Romeva, the region’s ‘foreign minister’ who in an interview for the BBC insisted that nobody could ‘expel’ Catalonia from the EU. Mr Romeva and his friends also chose to ignore earlier warnings, such as that from the former British Prime Minister David Cameron. They also decided to interpret Mr Juncker’s statement as support for the referendum.
As this is an emotionally charged issue, in case of a legally binding referendum there would clearly be many who would vote for independence regardless of consequences. Similarly, numerous other Catalans would oppose it without considering alternatives. However, when making a decision of such magnitude and long-term consequence, what is needed the most are cool heads and rational choices, something which appears in short supply.
Those who favour independence should ask themselves some questions now that we know that an independent Catalonia would have to apply to join the EU. For example, how would being outside the EU affect Catalan economy, particularly multinational companies based in the region and which when investing in Catalonia assumed that they would be able to operate freely across the biggest market in the world. Moreover, would other EU countries possibly refuse to accept Catalonia into the bloc, for whatever reason? Another question could be how a close vote either way would impact on social cohesion in this prosperous part of the world.
These are just some of the questions and issues that pro-independence politicians and activist need to think carefully about. At the moment they unfortunately appear ignorant or deluded.