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Catalonia - Foreign Relations

Catalonia FlagCatalonia is a country with a clear international outlook. The majority of its work in other countries takes place in Europe, where, as a member of the Committee of the Regions and other European bodies, it contributes to strengthening the role of local and regional organisations. Additionally, Catalan civil society is highly involved in international cooperation with the most disadvantaged countries.

Once Catalonia quit Spain, some say it would also stop being a member of the EU, may have to quit the euro zone as well as the Schengen area. There have been some threats by Spanish politicians that Catalan independence will mean exclusion from the EU and NATO and the need to reapply and face Madrid's veto.

But in January 2014 the Catalan Government [Generalitat] circulated a memorandum among those responsible for Foreign Affairs in 45 countries throughout the world that stating that "...it is false to assert that Catalonia will stop being a member of the EU". "It is even in Spain's interest for Catalonia to keep forming part of the EU". The document adds that "Catalans want to keep forming part of the EU and the Euro zone" and, in any case, "whether or not Catalonia remains in the EU would be a political decision in the hands of the governments of the member states".

The Council of Foreign Action and European Union Relations, established by the article 17 of Law 16/2014 of December 4 and regulated by Decree 59/2015 of April 28, is an assessment and consultative collegiate body with international participation, in relation to foreign action and the Catalan Government´s relations with the European Union. Its goals are, amongst others, to draw proposals in the field of foreign action and relations with the European Union, to transmit the proposals it considers relevant for the improvement these actions and to participate in the elaboration of blueprints of rules and general regulations of the Catalan Government Administration in this matter, including the Strategic Plan of foreign action and of relations with the European Union, and the annual sectorial plans

In accordance with Decree 170/2014 of December 23, regarding the structure of the Secretariat for Foreign and European Union Affairs, the Secretariat for Foreign and European Affairs is responsible for directing, promoting and coordinating the external action of the Catalan Government and its representation abroad. This coordination is exerted through the existent collegiate bodies as well as through meetings and periodic contact, which serve to transmit the ministries’ interests regarding European Union initiatives, or with reference to third countries, territorial cooperation networks and international organisations, and to advise on development cooperation projects. According to data published by the State’s Ministry of Economy and Competiveness, foreign investment in Catalonia reached a total of 4,857 million euros in 2016. Also in 2016 Catalan exports went over €65,000 million a year on year growth of 2%. This is a growth rate higher than the Euro area (0.7%), Spain (1.7%), Germany (1.2%) and Italy (1.1%), and contrasts with falls in France (-0.9%), the UK (-0.2%), the US (-3.2%), China (-6.4%) and Japan (-7 4%). There are 16,929 regular exporting businesses in Catalonia, that represents 25.5% of all of Spanish exports.

In a July 2017 news conference with Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron avoided any statements on the political situation in Catalonia. The French president limited himself to saying “it is an internal issue of Spain.” Macron was merely following the same line as other French leaders in avoiding taking a stand on the Catalan process. Apart from France’s reluctance to make an enemy out of Spain, there are other reasons for the caution. One is Northern Catalonia. The French government recently concern over a parliamentary resolution asking for the self determination of Catalonia under French jurisdiction. To this should be added France’s tradition of a highly-centralised state.

The position of the US government was cautious. Donald Trump made no reference whatsoever to the conflict between Catalonia and Spain. Nor did his predecessor, Barack Obama, make any explicit references to the issue. After months of pressure from Spanish diplomats, the Obama administration did its best to avoid the situation, finally limiting itself to an announcement that “the status of Catalonia is an internal Spanish issue.” Only on one occasion, during a meeting with King Philip VI, did Obama let slip that the US was “deeply committed to maintaining strong relations with Spain.”

The Catalan government delegate in Berlin, Marie Kapretz, admitted that Germans are “sceptical” of change due to the instability it brings.

On September 15, 2014, the Government of the Generalitat approved the Plan Catalunya-Marroc for the period 2014-2017. This is the first time that such an exhaustive task of detecting and prosecuting actions with Morocco had been carried out, with the objective of channeling current activities, establishing synergies between the Government and the institutions and working together and coordinated by Expand and enhance future actions.

Awareness of the inequalities between rich and poor countries had led Catalans to set up international solidarity organisations known as development NGOs (organitzacions no governamentals per al desenvolupament, ONGD). Development NGOs lead projects in developing countries with a view to improving living conditions there, establishing new types of relationships between northern and southern countries, and contributing to the full development of all peoples and cultures.

Development NGOs carry out activities aimed at other countries in fields such as education, health, agriculture, combating economic dependence and the environment. They also target the inhabitants of Catalonia by means of organising activities intended to raise awareness of inequalities between the north and the south, fair trade (comerç just) and development-oriented education.







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