Catalan independence supporters ensure right to national self-determination at heart of EU debate agenda
The right to national self-determination has been voted among the top priorities for the future of Europe as part of a major EU project after a mobilisation by supporters of Catalan independence.
The EU last year launched the Conference on the Future of Europe, the centre piece of which is a digital platform where citizens can propose and endorse ideas to be debated on the floor of the European Parliament by MEPs, Commissioners and national ministers as well as citizens.
Catalans have seized a rare chance to force their cause back on the European agenda after a period of relative silence, ensuring a proposal for a “clarity mechanism on the right to self-determination” was the second most popular on the platform when the formal deadline for endorsements closed on Monday.
It has since overtaken a petition for a more federal Europe to become the most popular.
“The right for stateless nations and peoples to democratically decide on their own future must be respected, and for that purpose, we advocate for the creation of a mechanism of clarity at EU level, aimed at facilitating and resolving any eventual self-determination disputes through democratic means,” states the proposal made by Jaume Bardolet of the Catalan National Assembly.
A proposal to make Catalan an official EU language was the third most supported idea on the platform.
The proposition submitted by Margarida Payola, an assistant of MEP and the exiled former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, points out that there are over 10 million Catalan speakers, making it the 14th most used language in Europe with a similar number of speakers to Swedish and Portuguese.
It states: “While it may not be practically possible to make every single European language official, those spoken by millions of Europeans can and should receive this status. Catalan-speaking citizens of the European Union have a right not to be treated as second-class citizens because of their language.”
The deliberately labyrinthine rules of the Conference on the Future of Europe mean there’s no guarantee these uncomfortable topics will be debated at the European Parliament.
But Aleix Sarri i Camargo, the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Puigdemont’s Together for Catalonia party, said the mobilisation was a “small victory that shatters the veto of the Spanish state and its parties against Catalonia.”
Puigdemont said the conference was an “alternative to disappointment” that has set in since the brutally repressed 2017 referendum that forced him and other ministers into exile to avoid the prison sentences handed to many of the government and civil society leaders which stayed behind.
“Despite all the disappointments, our only chance to survive as a small nation is to go to the heart of Europe,” he told a Catalan government event about the conference via video link.
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