FAQ: Everything on Catalan Independence (If it Comes into Effect)

Catalan leader Puigdemont delayed the declaration to encourage a dialogue with the central government in Madrid.

3 min read
A woman carries an independence Catalan flag as demonstrators march downtown Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday, 3 October 2017.

Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday planned to address a session of the regional parliament that might adopt a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain.

Puigdemont delayed the declaration to encourage a dialogue with the central government in Madrid but Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had also ruled out talks.

Slamming Puigdemont, Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the former should come back to the path of the law if he wants talks to take place and he has no right to impose a mediation with the government.

In the event of the declaration of independence, Rajoy could implement emergency powers which could entail more violence.

Below are the main points of the Catalan legal framework that permitted the 1 October referendum on independence and would underpin a new state before a constitution is established. Spain's Constitutional Court has suspended the new laws.


What does the legislation say about declaration of independence?

The legislation passed in the Catalan parliament on 6 September states that the outcome of the referendum is binding, and if it produces more affirmative than negative votes, this implies the independence of Catalonia.

Within two days of the official announcement of the result of the referendum, the Catalan parliament will formally declare independence, explain the effects of the decision and start the process of founding a republic.

What form would Catalonia take as new independent state?

The legislation describes Catalonia as “a social and democratic republic of law”, in which the people of the region are sovereign.

It says European Union and international law continue to apply, and defines the sovereign territory of Catalonia.


What would an independent Catalonia’s relations with the European Union be like?

The law says EU rules in force in Catalonia when independence is declared, whether enforced by national or regional institutions, will continue to apply under the same conditions established by the law of the bloc. It also says EU laws passed after an independent state is declared will be automatically integrated into Catalan law.

But Catalonia’s position in the EU also stands rocky as according to the “Prodi doctrine”, EU members cannot recognize Catalonia if it gains independence in violation of the Spanish constitution.

What currency would an independent Catalonia use?

Not clear. A break from Spain would leave Catalonia outside the EU, but it could aim to continue using the euro, as non-EU members Kosovo and Montenegro do. Exit from the bloc would mean Catalan lenders cease to be supervised by the European Central Bank, whose deposit insurance scheme protects bank customers.


How would Catalonia manage trade relations and immigration?

The exact terms of future trade relationships have not been set out, but the legislation says the Catalan government acts in accordance with the customs and excise regime set out in EU law.

International treaties signed by Spain are incorporated into Catalan law provided that they are considered compatible with application there. The Catalan government will decide within one year which treaties to authorise.

Foreigners have the same rights and obligations as Catalan citizens, but citizenship is required for those holding positions of public power. Anyone born in Catalonia who does not have any other legal citizenship is considered Catalan.

What would be Catalonia’s new judicial system?

The current Supreme Court of Justice of Catalonia becomes the new Supreme Court of Catalonia. The current civil and criminal court is divided into separate civil and criminal chambers.

A Superior Court of Guarantees is created to handle any appeals and conflicts of jurisdiction. This consists of the chairman of the Supreme Court, the chairmen of the other four chambers and two judges appointed by parliament.


What would the Catalan citizenship be like?

Spanish citizens resident in Catalonia since before 31 December 2016 are deemed citizens, while those who took up residency after 31 December 2016 but before the self-determination law takes hold can apply for citizenship after two years.

Those who were born in Catalonia, have Catalan parents or have lived in the region for at least five years in the past, but are not resident there, can also apply for citizenship. Babies born to or adopted by Catalan parents after independence is declared are considered citizens.

Catalan citizenship can be acquired by legal and continuous residence in Catalonia for a period of five years immediately prior to the request. For foreigners, the legal residence time includes that which has elapsed before the law comes into force.

An applicant to be a Catalan citizen does not have to give up their citizenship of Spain or any other country.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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