Catalonia has been abandoned

Speaking at an event in Luxembourg on Friday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker was asked why the EC was not mediating in the stand-off between Madrid and Catalonia. Juncker replied: “We do not do it because if we do … it will create a lot more chaos in the EU. We cannot do anything. We cannot get involved in that.”

“…if only one side asks for mediation then this will lead to considerable arguments in the European Union and that’s why one can’t do that.”

No mediation will take place between Madrid and Catalonia because Mariona Rajoy hasn’t asked for it.  The European Commission – or is it the European Union? – it’s difficult to tell these days, has effectively washed its hands of the situation.  Catalonia is defenceless.  The Spanish Government has been given the green-light by Europe’s power elite to do as it pleases and to hell with democracy.

Where will it end?  Who knows, but Juncker is under no allusions as to what is at stake when he added the following remark: “OK, nobody is shooting anyone in Catalonia – not yet at least. But we shouldn’t understate that matter, though,”

Mariano Rajoy has given Catalan President Carles Puigdemont until Monday to confirm whether UDI has been declared or not.  Rajoy has also served notice that any such declaration must be rescinded within three days.  With Puigdemont unlikely to wield to threats, it seems likely that Madrid will invoke Section 155 of the Spanish Constitution and seize control of the autonomous region – effectively ending self-government.

At a stroke the political route to self-determination for Catalonia will have been closed off.  The European Union will have allowed a member state to brutalise an ethnic minority and deny them the right to self-determination.

Europe’s corporate media machine is siding with Rajoy.  Observe any number of headlines from news outlets and they paint the Spanish Prime Minister as the defender of the law and the protector of democracy.  You won’t see any that portray Rajoy as an intolerant demagogue ignoring pleas for mediation.

In contrast Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is portrayed as someone who has instigated chaos.  He leads a ‘secessionist’ or a ‘separatist’ government that is riding roughshod over Spanish law.

Videos of black-shirted fascist gangs attacking Catalans have peppered social media.  These sporadic outbreaks of violence by Rajoy’s far-right supporters are being ignored by the main stream media.

Europe’s power elite need the Catalonia situation like a hole in the head.  Brexit is bad enough without another of the major member states adding to the headache.  The European Commission has stepped back in what appears to be a signal to Puigdemont that any expression of independence will result in pain.  It’s blackmail.

It’s a major U-turn from Juncker who exactly one month ago declared he would respect a Yes vote in a Catalan independence referendum.  On September 14th he said: “If there would be a Yes vote in favor of Catalan independence, then we will respect that opinion.”

There was a Yes vote.  It took place despite police brutality that ended with hundreds hospitalised.  Polling stations were sealed off.  Voters were hit with batons, shot at with rubber bullets, dragged by their hair and had their fingers broken.  The violence continues.  That nobody has been killed is sheer good fortune.

In terms of Scotland, the situation has already witnessed a move away from backing membership of the EU from some Yessers.  Memories of the EU and Rajoy’s repeated intervention in our own independence referendum are still fresh.

The BBC is running headlines almost identical to those we witnessed during that same referendum.

Last week a BBC news report exaggerated by several hundred thousand the number of people who took part in a pro-Spain rally in Barcelona.  Listen to the tone of the news report below.

At the same time as these pro-Spain articles and news reports are appearing, the situation on the ground in Catalonia worsens.  Buildings are being daubed with Nazi swastikas and people are being attacked by fascist gangs in public.

People are being conditioned to accept the end of Catalonian autonomy.  Mariano Rajoy will act with impunity if, as expected, he seizes control of the autonomous region on Thursday.  Catalonia has been abandoned.

The worry for Juncker and the rest of Europe is that the Catalans refuse to acquiesce.  What if they decide to stand up to Rajoy and his bully-boy fascist thugs? What happens if – god forbid – people are killed because they demanded the right to vote?

What then for the European dream?  Brexit would be the least of the EU’s worries.


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14 thoughts on “Catalonia has been abandoned

  1. Phil Orchard

    Well, if there was ever any doubt about what the attitude of the EU would be towards an indy Scotland, there can be none now. in fact the whole Catalan car crash is pretty terminal for the cause Scottish independence, which was already hanging by a thread.

    1. Craig Fisher

      Phil, I don’t agree with your conclusions for a number of reasons, which I’ll go into:

      Firstly, the chances are, as there is already precedence with the first referendum, it’s likely that the UK gov. would in the end agree to the second one. Even if they didn’t, as there isn’t the two layers of police force within the UK as Scotlands force is devolved, the UK’s choice would be to either take control of the Scottish force which I’m not sure would even happen, or to send in the Army, which realistically I can’t see happening.
      Secondly the situations while they have similarities do differ in the sense that Spain is within the EU with no intentions of leaving, while the UK is on it’s way out – which when you consider the attitudes of the EU towards Scotland now, compared to 2014, I’d argue that they are more likely to take Scotlands side rather than rUKs – with obviously Spain being the unknown factor, depending on what has happened there by the time the next referendum takes place.
      I did have a third point, but after writing the first two its gone out my head!!
      As ever, a lot depends on how things play out, but as it stands I’d say that things aren’t terminal, as yet, for the Scottish situation.

      1. Alasdair Macdonald

        Mr Powell, Are you referring to Mr Orchard’s or to Mr Fisher’s posts?

        I think Mr Fisher’s points are good ones. There are differences between Scotland/UK and Catalunya/Spain and so, we cannot make inferences from the situation in Catalunya and apply these to the situation in Scotland. Also, as things stand, the EU is fairly limited in what it can and cannot do with regard to individual states and what are deemed to be ‘internal affairs’ of what are autonomous countries. The various treaties of the EU define what things are ‘common’ e.g. the ‘four freedoms’ and what things lie only within the laws of individual states, e.g. local government. The body which can have influence is the Council of Europe and it has begun to indicate its concerns.

        If the comment was directed at Mr Orchard’s comments, then, Mr Powell I share your scepticism about whether he is a supporter of independence.

  2. Phil Orchard

    You may be right that the UK government will agree a second indyref. But the chances of the Scottish people voting YES are slim, dwindling to none if “independence” becomes associated with the kind of instability we are seeing in Spain.

    1. Tony Little

      Independence has to be presented as the principle that it is and NOT automatically tied to something like the EU. Independence has to be argued on the decision-making principle – who should decide for Scotland; London or Edinburgh?

      As for the EU, as a life long supporter I also despair at what they are doing right now. It astounds me how quickly basic principles of democracy have been set aside, and I would want Scotland to have the choice to reconsider whether it should stay or leave after independence.

      On balance I still think the EU is good for Scotland, certainly with regards to trade, but its political machinations and its failure to even mildly criticise the violence in Catalunya have created doubt among many of its erstwhile supporters. The EU is at a cross-raids,this time of its own making. I have no idea how it will play out, but Independence is still necessary for Scotland, whether in the EU or in EFTA.

      1. Derick Tulloch

        For Scotland to “stay” in the EU if we vote for Independence is not an option. Or rather it’s only an option if the Commission and the 27 member states unanimously agree to tear up the Lisbon Treaty specifically to accommodate Scotland. I’d suggest that’s not very likely.

        If we want to rejoin the single market we either need to join the EU or EFTA first. The EFTA route is potentially about 3 years faster, just because of the logistics.

        People see that we need the “protection” of the EU. I’m not at all clear what exactly that protection means. Lisbon Article 2 – the rights of individual EU citizens – has been breached utterly in Catalonia. The conclusion is that those rights are empty words

    2. Ian

      So far, the instability (is that a euphemism for the violence?) is being perpetrated exclusively by the Spanish unionists. And you think this will depress support for Scottish Indy?

  3. Ayrshirelass

    Of course there cannot be mediation unless both sides agree but that should not deny the right of one party to ask for mediation and for this request to be discussed at EU level.
    The EU says it cannot interfere within a member state but it could have reprimanded Barroso and Rajoy for commenting on the Scottish independence referendum and also reprimand the UK for seeking other governments to speak out against Scottish independence.
    They do not need to be involved but they do need to remind member states that there are certain democratic standards which must be upheld to remain a member and sending police in and using violence to stop a vote do not meet those standards.

  4. Geejay

    Good points from all of the above. I think the EU and UK’s response – only Scotland seems to be unequivocal – is a symptom of the sub-mediocre politicians we have at present. Vacillating, straws in the wind, intellectually limited their imaginations constrained by the strait-jacket of neoliberalism and their dream of a supra-national state – they have forgotten what democracy looks like and how far we are from achieving it.

    Spain and England are, in some ways, not that different. Spain has emerged from the nightmare of Franco and hasn’t confronted its history and in it’s fear of the future demands a Spain “indivisible”. England, aka Britain, has emerged from the loss of Empire, political and economic decline and does not know what it is for and come to terms with its much diminished status. It too, demands an indivisible “United Kingdom”.

    Anthony Barnett is very good on the English problem in “The Lure of Greatness..”

  5. Jason Smoothpiece

    Whatever happened to the E.C.H.R.

    The EU and all European governments have flushed any credibility down the toilet.

    What has happened, is happening and will no doubt happen in the future is simply not on.

    This is Europe 2017.

    European governments are quick to condemn out of control regimes elsewhere, often correctly, can’t do that now.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald

      ECHR is a statement issued by the Council of Europe, a different organisation from the EU. THE Council of Europe has raised concerns regarding the actions of the Spanish Police in Catalunya on the day of the referendum.

  6. Bob

    To have mediation requires both sides to be involved – that’s just a basic fact. Rajoy is not interested in talking, do Europe and everyone else are powerless at least as mediators. But both Europe & the UN need to state and restate reponsibilites which Spain has not to use force and to recognise the rights of people groups. Neither have provided adequate support. But Spain does not recognise those living in Catalonia as being a people group. And to some extent they are correct because, as in Scotland, the people comprise those from many ethnic backgrounds.

  7. Douglas

    The EU does not move as quickly as a nation state. This should not be a surprise as nation states are not moving quickly either. I am sure that plenty is happening. It is frustrating but not surprising. Unfortunately the EU has a large burden of right wing governments (loosing the UK will eventually help) but even they are not happy with Rajoy.

    The basic principle of the EU is sound and has served us well.

    To draw an analogy, encountering idiots on the roads isn’t a case for ripping up the road. It is a case, however, for sorting the idiots out.

    Watch and listen, particularly to Finland, Sweden, Belgium,…

    The EU will rediscover it’s mojo and willl be much better without the UK

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