dimecres, 16 de març de 2016


Creating a Strategic Framework for Addressing the Conflict between Sovereignty and Self-Determination: Earned Sovereignty
Testimony of Dr. Paul Williams
Rebecca I. Grazier Professor of Law and International Relations
American University
President and Co-Founder, Public International Law and Policy Group
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats
“U.S. Policy Toward National Self-Determination Movements”
March 15, 2016

"(...) Once the Scottish referendum was put to rest, the EU immediately faced another self-determination crisis—this time in Catalonia. On November 9, 2014, almost 2 million Catalonian voters turned out to participate in a non-binding referendum for independence. Eighty percent of those who voted favored independence from Spain.(42) The referendum was approved by the Catalonian Parliament on September 27, 2014, and was originally slated to be a binding vote similar to the one held in Scotland. In the run up to the referendum, Catalonian regional Premier Atur Mas set forth a legal basis for a binding referendum.(43) The Spanish Prime Minister, Rajoy, however, vowed to use the Spanish courts to block what he considered an unconstitutional vote.(44) Within two days of the announcement of the referendum date, the Spanish government filed a request for the Constitutional Court to declare the referendum illegal.(45)

Interestingly, despite the potentially destabilizing impact of this ongoing dispute within Spain, the domestic legal debate may be largely irrelevant to the EU. If Catalonians eventually choose independence, they will seek international recognition as an independent state based on the will of the people, not on provisions of the Spanish constitution. As the International Court of Justice (ICJ) noted when reviewing the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, there is no international legal bar against a sub-state entity declaring independence.

Without a coherent and cohesive approach to these movements, the EU has placed itself in an impossible and precarious position. If the EU were to consider recognizing Catalonia, this action could encourage further referenda in Belgium, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania, and possibly Italy, which are all grappling with their own self-determination movements, raising opposition from these members.

However, if the EU denies recognition to Catalonia, this may generate a frozen economic conflict in the core of Europe that would drain political capital and economic resources from an economically fragile Spain. This frozen economic conflict will also create a “state,” with the Euro as its currency and seven million Catalonians that could retain their EU citizenship while living outside the EU. Furthermore,in many European states, non-recognition would be perceived as anti-democratic. Such a move would be extremely difficult to justify, given that nearly three-dozen states have achieved recognition by EU member states in the past twenty-five years. (...)

(42) The referendum posed two questions to the Catalonian people. The first asked whether Catalonia should become a state. The second asked whether the state should be independent. Eighty percent of voters answered affirmatively to both questions. About 10 percent voted “yes” to the first question only, and 4.5 percent voted “no” to both questions. BBC: Catalonia Vote: 80% Back Independence – Officials (Nov. 10, 2014), The Economist: Voting in their hearts (Nov. 15, 2014), BBC's Catalonia Profile (Jan. 15, 2015).

(43) Tom Burridge, Catalonia president signs independence referendum decree, BBC (Sep. 27, 2014)

(44) Fiona Govan, Spain blocks Catalonia referendum on Independence, TELEGRAPH.CO.UK (Sept. 29, 2014)

(45) Ashifa Kassam, Catalonia Independence Referendum Halted by Spain’s Constitutional Court, THE GUARDIAN (Sept. 29, 2014)

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