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Dimecres  08.01.2014  11:37

French study questions whether Catalonia could be expelled from the European Union

Politique Étrangère published a study carried out by the former chief of staff of the French Minister of European Affairs • He gives legal arguments that would block the expulsion of Catalonia and Scotland from the European Union


The debate about what might happen after independence is declared in Scotland or Catalonia rages on. The latest installment comes in the form of an article by Yves Gounin in Politique Étrangère, a prestigious French journal. He gives all manner of arguments, some of which are new and quite interesting, that question the expulsion of Catalonia and Scotland from the European Union. Gounin's article is particularly important given his political past. Until 2012 he was chief of staff of the French Minister of European Affairs, and currently he is a State Councillor.

Gounin's article introduces new elements into the debate from a neutral political perspective. He understands that for the EU, the situation in Catalonia, Flanders, and Scotland is a very complicated matter, but at the same time expresses quite clearly that they cannot be treated the same way as "Moldavia, Montenegro, or Turkey".

For that reason, he recommends "negotiating in good faith" based on a very logical conclusion: "Once we've crossed the Rubicon of independence, Europe has everything to lose by leaving these states in quarantine." And he adds that, if while it's true that the public statements from the Union (that is, the obligation to reapply for entry) have been clear with respect to the current legislation, "a realistic and efficient solution for an eventual independence must be found".

And he considers that this solution must be the simultaneous negotiation of independence and of membership in the European Union, so that, without there being an automatic integration, there also doesn't have to be any break in the affected citizens' membership in the European Union.

Arguments in favor of automatic admission
Gounin presents a series of very interesting arguments in favor of Catalonia and Scotland's immediate entry once they become independent:

—He says requiring negotiations for membership would mean excluding Catalonia and Scotland from the Union temporarily, which Gounin dismisses as unrealistic. And he questions the impact that the creation of borders in Catalonia would have on the whole of Europe.

—He goes over the concept of 'interior enlargement' to explain that the admittance of a state that has never formed part of the EU cannot be compared with the admittance of a new state that is already a part and in which European laws are already in effect.

—He alludes to the foundational concepts of the Union—liberty, democracy, equality and the rule of law—to prove that it wouldn't make any sense to deny the right of self-determination in accord with these same principles, and that doing so would be a 'democractic regression'.

—He remarks upon the fact that the European Union is defined constitutionally not just as a union of states but also as a union of citizens, and affirms that stripping Catalans and Scots of their European citizenship would go against constructive legal rulings of the European Court of Justice.