"Catalonian independence is not a threat to Europe", Jordi Solé

Letter to the editor

By | 10/4/18, 12:46 PM CET | Updated 10/4/18, 3:48 PM CET

The author of “The lies of Catalan separatism are a threat to Europe” (October 2) argues that Catalan independence is no different than other regressive nationalisms and populisms threatening the European project. But it is. The author’s comparison of the Catalan pro-independence movement with Brexit or other anti-European movements makes no sense: Catalans have always defined themselves as pro-European. This position remains a unifying factor among Catalonia’s main political parties, including those in favor of a Catalan republic. This article shows that unionist discourse is extremely simplistic. The author accuses pro-independence supporters of organizing a coup d’état, being populist and fracturing society — none of which even remotely correspond to the complex reality of the situation. A coup d’état, by definition, implies the use of force and violence against the existing power. The only weapons used by Catalans over the past six years were peaceful demonstrations and a democratic vote. It was Catalan independence supporters who were the target of violent attacks from the police when they tried to cast their votes in last year’s referendum.

Protesters hold portraits of separatist leaders in pre-trial jail and exile in front of the Lledoners prison in Sant Joan de Vilatorrada | David Ramos/Getty Images

The article also draws parallels between the pro-independence movement and other kinds of populism and nationalism. Indeed, Catalan society is a very diverse one. Everyone is welcome now and in the Catalan Republic, because we believe building a new state will give us the best tools for a fairer society. This has nothing to do with a specific language, origin or cultural heritage. We don’t look back to anybody’s origins, but forward to our common future. The independence debate hasn’t fractured Catalan society. Debate may sometimes be heated, but this is the basis of democracy. Mature and resilient societies like Catalonia’s can conduct sensitive debates without harming their cohesion. Throughout Europe we are starting to see the kind of state nationalism embodied by the article’s author. This nationalism will weaken the future of a common European project that protects citizens’ rights and freedoms. We should be able to debate these unionist arguments in an electoral campaign for a binding and internationally recognized referendum on independence for Catalonia. But unfortunately, pro-union politicians are not willing to engage in a serious debate. Nor do they seem to want to try convincing Catalans disappointed by the Spanish state of the merits of staying in it. Could it be that they do not feel completely comfortable with the tools of democracy? Jordi Solé i Ferrando Member of the European Parliament, Greens/European Free Alliance group Brussels, Belgium