Brussels (ACN.) - The European Commission stated hours before the start of the demonstration supporting Catalan independence from Spain that in case of secession, Catalonia would no longer be part of the European Union. Firstly, the EU spokesman Olivier Bailly stated that the Commission is “aware” of the independence demonstration in Barcelona. After this, the EC immediately clarified Barroso’s words from late August, now stating that Catalonia’s independence is purely a Spanish internal issue and they “have nothing to do with it”. Bailly pointed out that “there is no provision in the European treaties for the secession of a region from an existing member state”. However, he was clear that the process would put Catalonia out of the EU and to be part of it again, a specific negotiation would have to take place. “There are two different steps. The process of secession under international law and a request to join the EU as a member state in accordance with EU treaties”, said Bailly at a press conference in Brussels. However, European sources have indicated that the process could be “faster and easier” than the process for other states that have not been part of the EU. Catalonia has traditionally been the most pro-European part of Spain. Furthermore, Catalan citizens have been net contributors to the EU budget for decades, since Catalonia is among the richest regions in the EU, with a GDP the size of Portugal. On top of this, Catalans have already adapted all their laws to EU legislation, they have the Euro, and have already enjoyed the European Citizenship; a citizenship that according to Barroso is “additional” and would be lost in case of secession from Spain.
“There is no provision in the European treaties for the secession of a region from an existing member state and in any case, if a region of any state wants to separate and become a member of the European Union, it must be dealt with according to international law and at the same time fulfil the conditions of EU membership”, said Bailly.
The EU spokesman’s response echoes the words of the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, who said on August 30th that independence should be negotiated at an international level. However, for the first time the European Commission has now clarified that Catalonia or any new state would have to “negotiate access to the EU”. Bailly said “this new entity obviously would not be part of the EU because it would have to apply for access”. The European Commission statement was made only six hours before Barcelona’s demonstration, which gathered 1.5 million citizens on the streets.
The accession would be "faster and easier"
An EU source explained to ACN that in the case of Catalonia’s secession and consequent accession negotiation, the process could be “faster and easier” than the process for other states applying for membership that haven’t been part of the EU. For example, Catalonia would have been part of the Euro and the Schengen area through Spain. However these ‘fast track’ negotiations, according to EU sources would follow standard procedures and, among other things, would require a unanimous vote in favour by the 27 member states, including Spain. Spain might veto Catalonia’s accession. In the process, the hypothetical new state may have the same benefits of a “transitional” member, the same source said. “But all this is speculation” they added.