Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2.3 million Europeans voting do not "deserve" a specific comment from the European Commission


The European Commission's Spokesperson,
Margaritis Schinas, on Monday (by EBS)
The European Commission has been asked about November 9's participatory process in Catalonia, when 2.3 million citizens cast votes about independence from Spain, but refused to comment and downplayed the citizen mobilization After such a unique and massive citizen participation process, which was carried out in a "calm" and "successful" way, according to the delegation of observers from the European Parliament, the European Commission repeated that it was Spain's "internal" affair. The Spokesperson for the Brussels-based institution, Margaritis Schinas, stated that "it is not the European Commission's role to express an opinion about Member States' internal and constitutional organization issues". Asked about whether the more than 2 million European citizens do not "deserve" a reaction from the Commission, Schinas stated "they deserve the words I just said; I have nothing else to say".


The new European Commission chaired by Jean-Claude Juncker does not seem to have changed its approach to the self-determination demands from Catalan citizens. Barroso's Commission was very often criticised for obeying the Member States' interests first, rather than standing for the European Union's values and general interests. Regarding Catalonia's self-determination, Juncker's Commission seems to be following the same path, trying not to enter into a politically sensitive issue that irritates the Spanish Government.

On Sunday, 2.3 million Europeans peacefully participated in one of the greatest civic-minded demonstrations ever achieved in Europe, casting their ballots in a calm atmosphere in a process run by more than 40,000 volunteers. Despite the rain, thousands of citizens queued in a festive atmosphere to cast their vote, including many old people who were genuinely thrilled to be able to give their opinion about Catalonia's independence after having lived through a Civil War and Franco's Spanish nationalist and military dictatorship.

However, according to the European Commission's official Spokesperson, these 2.3 million European citizens "deserve" only the comment that what they did is Spain's internal affair. The Commission chose once again not to enter in a tricky subject and, on top of this, it gave a quite disrespectful and downplaying answer to a peaceful citizen mobilisation. The Brussels-based institution does not have power over the internal constitutional organisation of Member States, but it does have powers on matters regarding democratic rights. In addition, EU Treaties clearly protect the values of democracy, ideological freedom, the freedom of expression, citizen participation, diversity and minority rights. However, the Commission did not take the opportunity of being coherent with its External Policy, based on the peaceful resolution of conflicts and the spread of democracy. Once again, and this has been the story of the last 2 years, the European Commission chose not to link the demands of millions of European citizens to the EU's core values and, instead, it chose a biased inaction in order not to annoy the Spanish Government.

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