During the 45th Citizens’ Dialogue, European Commission Vice-President, the EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, urged Catalonia not to become independent from Spain, since this separation would result in Catalonia immediately ceasing to be a member of the EU.  

As Vice-President Reding said: “The law says that an independent Catalonia would no longer be part of the Union. An independent Catalonia would have to apply for EU membership again. To put it bluntly: a few seconds after a vote for independence, Catalonia would be out of the Union. You would be out of the euro system. You would not have EU citizenship. In short: I would lose you. The process to come back into our Union would not be a quick one. It would be lengthy. It would require long negotiations and the unanimous approval of all EU countries. It would be a project of a generation.”

However, Vice-President Reding added that she respected Catalonia’s desire to be autonomous but highlighted that “this is the time for solidarity and working together, not for separation or division.”

In her remarks, she also stressed that Catalonia out of our Union would weaken Europe and Spain, as well as Catalonia itself. Finally, she said that a new arrangement must be found to accommodate the needs of both Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

Referendum on independence

The Spanish Parliament has recently rejected plans by Catalonia to hold a referendum on whether it should become independent or remain part of Spain.

Last week, in a vote, 272 MPs approved a motion rejecting the referendum, as opposed to 43 votes from Catalonian nationalist groups and some leftist politicians.

Last month, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy, who is opposing the referendum, had stated in an interview: “There will be no independence of Spanish territory while I’m [prime minister].”

However, Artur Mas, the Catalan president is insisting on holding the referendum, saying it would not endanger Spanish sovereignty.

The referendum is scheduled for November 9 and recent polls indicate that Catalans are roughly evenly split on independence.