The independent MEP for the Partit Demòcrata (PDECat), Ramon Tremosa has jointly published, with his adviser Aleix Sarri, The Europe They Have Caused to Fail (Pòrtic), in which he examines how the centralism of the Member States is threatening the European project.
Who has caused Europe to fail?
Every year, the European Commission initiates proceedings against southern European countries on 1,000 occasions for breach of EU regulations. Contrary to their reputation as the stereotypical culprits, it is not the EU -which itself has no power- or Merkel, who are causing Europe to fail, but rather the countries in the south.
If the EU is powerless, do you appreciate why someone would ask what it’s for?
The problem is that many governments in the south nationalize European successes and Europeanize their failures, such as the refugee crisis. Although Europe has no jurisdiction over the situation, when states fail in their handling of a humanitarian crisis it is Europe which is at fault.
And how can this be avoided?
If a parliament does not collect any taxes, it has no significance. One solution would be that first the EU has some real power to collect taxes and could undertake infrastructure projects -such as a rail corridor- across the continent without states having the power of veto. Another solution would be for the president of the EU to be elected by universal suffrage. They would thereby be able to go to the governments in the south and read them the riot act when they fail to do their job properly.
And force the states to comply?
We already have sanctions which have been agreed by all the member countries, but when they fail to comply these are not enforced. Until we resolve this problem, the EU will move backwards instead of forwards.
Does Spain believe in the EU?
Spain has never taken the EU seriously. It has never sent its powerful commissioners or youthful MEPs who are just starting out in their political careers and who are eager to be involved in European issues. It only sends retirees or those it wishes to punish, since they have nothing to contribute. And the proof is that at this time Spain fails to hold a single position of importance.
Does this help the internationalization of the pro-independence process?
I’ve had ambassadors, international journalists and think tanks who have approached me for information because what they’ve received from the Spanish government wasn’t good enough. Since 27-S [Catalan parliamentary election held on 27 September 2015] there has been an increased awareness in Europe that the Catalan issue has deep roots and is not just a temporary outburst. In Catalonia, we’re eager to finish the process, but if you speak to ambassadors they tell you that their country took 60 years to gain independence, whereas we, in four years have overcome 90% of the obstacles.
And what’s next?
Imagine if we were able to hold a negotiated referendum and we won. We’d have achieved a fast-track independence. 9-N [the non-binding referendum held on 9 November 2014] was a success. 27-S turned into a plebiscite in which more than over 4 million people voted and in which just 12% voted neither yes nor no. Seen this way, 27-S is the closest to an official referendum in terms of voter turnout. If we were to hold another plebiscite because we were unable to hold a referendum with guarantees -due to a boycott by the ‘no’s-, this 12% would be lower.
Following the ruling on bullfighting, a large proportion of Pacma voters would vote in favour of Catalonia becoming an independent state, Unió no longer exists and Podemos has lost its momentum, since it has shown that its si se puede [yes we can] has become a we can’t and we won’t. The space for a third federalist way is being lost. Time is on our side and the fact that Mariano Rajoy is in the Moncloa is the best we could hope for, since at least the PP doesn’t deceive or lie.
Would Europe recognise the outcome of a negotiated referendum?
Miqel Iceta says that Catalonia will become independent if over a long period more and more Catalans vote for independence at every election. This is obvious. In Europe, there are many countries that are democratic at heart, and when Margallo says that the debate is taking place at the European level it’s because, if a country recognizes Catalonia after the UDI, it opens the door for the rest to do so. It’s what happened in Estonia.
And is there any risk of expulsion from the EU?
Spain can’t force the expulsion of Catalonia if we haven’t previously been recognized. And when it does so it will be because all the other countries have already recognized us, which means the expulsion wouldn’t make any sense. In addition, every new multinational company that moves to Catalonia makes an expulsion harder.