Jean-Bernard Auby, Professor at Sciences Po and Director of the Chair MDAP, stressed that it is not reasonable to think that Catalonia will be expelled from the EU in case of independence
Toulouse was today the host city of the conference “The Law at the service of the people: the Right to Decide of Catalonia, organised by the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia and Sciences Po Toulouse, with the collaboration of the Government of Catalonia Delegation to France. This is the second activity of the Council in France and the first one taking place in the Euroregion Pyrenees Mediterranean.
The inaugural lecture was given by Francesc Homs, Minister of the Presidency of the Government of Catalonia. He explained that the referendum is not an end in itself but a means to find out what Catalan citizens think: "a democratic instrument to get to know the position of the majority of the Catalan voters.”
He added that "in this referendum everyone can defend his or her opinion legitimately. In this regard, referendum does not mean independence, as is intentionally confused by the Spanish government”, he explained. "What is happening today in Catalonia is the essence of democracy: to know the direct opinion of the people. And then, depending on the result, to manage it."
Philippe Raimbault, Director of Sciences Po Toulouse and Albert Royo, Secretary General of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, opened the workshop. Royo said that "recent surveys show that over 70% of citizens simply ask to vote. The negative reaction of the Spanish government," he added, "contrasts with the British reaction with reference to Scotland, where a referendum on self-determination will be organised in September, or with the Canadian government, which has approved two referenda on self-determination in Quebec."
Jean-Bernard Auby, Professor at Sciences Po and Director of the Chair MDAP, contextualized the right to self-determination within the European Union. Auby stressed that it is not reasonable to think that Catalonia will be expelled from the EU in case of independence. "There will be a pragmatic solution," he said, "Catalonia is part of the EU, the Catalans are European citizens. We need a solution within the European framework, not necessarily in the European treaties, which do not foresee how to handle this situation”, he added. Meanwhile,Joan B Culla, Professor of Contemporary History at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, explained the development towards the Right to Decide, from 2006 to the present, noting that "according to the public opinion, 1979 was a starting point. Throughout these years, Spain did not do anything to promote a culture of plural identity”, he added. “In a globalized economy, the Spanish market, while still having a significant weight, is increasingly less important for Catalonia."
The closing remarks were given by Maryse Olivé Quintana, Head of the Delegation of Catalonia to France. The conference had more than a hundred attendees, amongst whom the Spanish Consul in Toulouse, Dámaso de Lario Ramírez, and General Director of External Relations of the Government of Catalonia, Francesc Gambús.
With this conference, which took place at Sciences Po Toulouse, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia continues the series of lectures on the Right to Decide at prestigious universities in Spain and throughout Europe. The series began precisely at Sciences Po in Paris last June, then followed by conferences in London, Sevilla and Uppsala (Sweden). The series of conferences will continue in Lisbon, in February 2014.