Catalonia Independence Negotiated within the International legal order, Durao Barroso

Durao Barroso01.09.2012

Author: GTIR

On July 25, Maria Bizzotto, MEP, submitted a written question to the European Commission, on the Possibility of Secession in a Member state and Impact on citizens. The full question text was the following:

In document C (2012) 3689, the Commission rejected the proposed citizens’ initiative entitled ‘Fortalecimiento de la participación ciudadana en la toma de decisiones sobre la soberanía colectiva’, on the grounds that its substance was outside the Commission’s powers.

The aim of the initiative was to ensure that citizens of a new state that might result from a possible secession of Catalonia from Spain would maintain their status as EU citizens. The Commission pointed out that, in addition to not finding any legal basis either in the Treaties or in secondary legislation by which it could support this initiative, under Article 20 TFEU only persons holding the nationality of a Member State were also citizens of the Union, since citizenship of the Union was additional to and did not replace national citizenship.

The Commission also stated that in case of secession within a Member State, the solution would have to be found through negotiations under international law.

In the light of the above, can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. Is it true that Article 20 TFEU stipulates that EU citizenship is additional to that of a Member State and that, in case of secession, citizens would immediately lose their status as EU citizens and the resultant rights and obligations?
2. Does the Commission not agree that citizens should nevertheless be protected in the event of a possible secession within a Member State through the use of international law? If so, how?

The citizens initiative referred was submitted by a group of European citizens, and sponsored by Reagrupament Independentista (RCAT).  

On August, 28, European Commission President, Mr. Barroso, answered the question on behalf of the Commission, in the following terms:

The Commission confirms that, in accordance with Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace national citizenship (that is, the citizenship of an EU Member State). It also confirms that in the hypothetical event of a secession of a part of an EU Member State, the solution would have to be found and negotiated within the international legal order. Any other consideration related to the consequences of such event would be of a conjectural nature.

It´s obvious, then, that for the European Union, the Independence of Catalonia is a matter of International Law. That is a big step forward, for Catalonia Independence, since it confirms that the International Community has a say in this process. In a certain sense, this stand, goes in the same direction of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on Kosovo Unilateral Declaration of Independence, since both consider the international nature of Independence processes.

Those who argue that these processes are strictly state’s internal affairs must think twice, now.

This is a big victory for the Catalan People. And RCAT proudly has been a key element to make it happen.