Ana Stanič: ‘You will do better if you work together with Scotland than if you go it alone’

Date: 26.07.2016

Author: Andreu Barnils

Source: Vilaweb in English

ana stanic

The lawyer, who is an expert in community law, explains why Catalonia should approach Scotland to deal with a common problem in the European Union

In 2007, the lawyer Ana Stanič founded the E&A office in the United Kingdom. She specialised in community law and her office can represent states in cases with the EU, the EU in cases with states, or companies in cases with governments. But her real speciality is international agreements between different states. Stanič has been following the case of Catalonia for years and knows it well. She has a flat in Barcelona and has started to learn Catalan. Last week she met with VilaWeb at the Laie bookshop-cafeteria to talk about the effects of Brexit, also in the case of Catalonia, and about the roadmap of the Puigdemont government.

—What do you think is the impact of Brexit on the case of Catalonia?
—Any change in the status is always an opportunity. Now things have to be reconsidered and the EU has to reconsider things. If Scotland calls a second referendum, the EU will not be able to turn a blind eye to the requests to start to negotiate with the Scots, and this might have an impact on the Catalan case. The EU may have to face a real and specific situation, which is how to deal with Scotland’s desire to remain. This is a real fact, not like the ‘what ifs’ we have heard in recent years. The “what if’ will be on the table and I think Scotland will call a second referendum. I think it is just a question of time. I think they will, it’s just a question of when.


—And what impact will that have here?
—I don’t think the Spanish position on Catalonia will change, whatever happens in Scotland. But what about in Europe? Let’s imagine that Great Britain holds the referendum and let’s suppose that the Scots vote for independence this time. They have already said that they will only call it when they are sure of winning. If they call it they win, and if they win there will have to be negotiations between the EU and Scotland, and this means the agreement of all of the countries of the EU … including Spain. Well I can’t see Spain capable of vetoing it, that would be unacceptable for the rest.

—Well they vetoed Kosovo.
—They vetoed Kosovar independence, that of a country that was not in the EU, that’s not quite the same. It would be a very difficult position for Spain, very difficult. They might try to veto it, but the EU’s reaction would be very important. I’m not saying they won’t try; I am saying that their veto would cause more harm to the EU than acceptance of the independence of Scotland. So the reaction they would receive would be very stern, I think their position would be weakened. It would no longer be a conflict between Spain and Scotland, it would be between Spain and the EU. This is where the Catalans have their opportunity.

—How can they take advantage of it?
—I believe that in the past Catalonia was very interested in distinguishing itself from Scotland; they are different cases, it was said, and we have to be judged by our specific nature. Well now I think the position has changed. Catalonia has to show that its situation is very similar to that of Scotland. I believe there should be more parallels between them both; I think you will get on better if you work with Scotland than if you go it alone. There is strength in size; two cases in the EU have more weight than one: I can understand that some, maybe Scots, maybe Catalans, might see it as a problem, but I see it as an opportunity.

Catalan President Artur Mas gestures to Junts Pel Si (Together For Yes) supporters after polls closed in a regional parliamentary election in Barcelona

—And what is the aspect that joins Catalonia and Scotland with regard to the EU?
—The right of the people to decide they future they want, whether or not they want to leave. That is key, and this view is not only shared by Catalans and Scots, but by many people in the EU and around the world.

—Here there are people now who believe that a referendum has to be held, and not elections, to reach 50%+1 of the votes. How do you see it?
—I believe it is difficult to see how the referendum will be held if the Constitutional Court banned the vote on the instances of the government. If my understanding of the roadmap is right, a law is planned at the end of the eighteen months that marks the end of subordination to Spanish law, which will immediately be followed by new elections. If the independentist parties win, there will be a referendum. Whether you take the path of the unilateral referendum or the present roadmap, you will come to a breaking point, in one case earlier than the other. In both cases the question is at what time you can demonstrate that you have democratic legitimacy, when you have 50%+1 of the votes. For instance, in the case of the second referendum that the Scots want to call, it is known that they will only call it when they are sure they will get there.

—You can never know whether you will win.
—When my father organised the referendum in Slovenia and saw the surveys, he was the one most convinced in the whole government that the result would be positive, and that is because he spent the day talking to people. He could smell the result. In Slovenia the people were more sure than the politicians and maybe this is the lesson to be learnt from Brexit. I think the story here should be that independence leads to a better future for everyone, a future that has to include all those who live in Catalonia. For everyone it would be helpful to know in what respects Catalonia would be different from now. For example, that it would be a place where corruption would be eradicated, where you could have dual nationality, there would be efficient bureaucracy, we would have a decentralised country, a strong welfare state and the laws would be consecrated to the constitution, with strong and independent institutions. All of this, and more.


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