The European Commission didn’t authorise any official answer regarding a hypothetical Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Catalunya.
It is not for the Commission to express a position on questions of internal organisation related to the constitutional arrangements of a particular Member State.
This statement was the one agreed by President Juncker” stated EC spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud. A possible manipulation is being considered by the EC after the confusion surrounding the two different answers, one in Enlgish and one in Spanish, given to the same question from PP Member of the European Parliament Santiago Fisas. Fisas asked in Spanish if the Commission “would recognise a Unilateral Declaration of Independence” from Catalunya or if on the contrary “the territorial integrity of Spain” would prevail. The Catalan Government called for an enquiry on the alleged manipulation and defined the Spanish text as “extremely disturbing”.
“The English version is the one agreed to by President Juncker”, said EC spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud, referring to the confusion over a different answer from the EC, one in English and one in Spanish, to the same question.
MEP Santiago Fisas suggested on Tuesday that a hypothetical Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Catalunya “would be against the Spanish Constitution and therefore wouldn’t be recognised by the Spanish Government”. Following this, he asked the European Commission whether they would “recognise a Unilateral Declaration of Independence” from Catalonia “to proclaim a new state” or “respect the territorial integrity of Spain and its competence to deal with their national matters and essential functions as a State”.
In the Spanish version, EC president Jean-Claude Juncker’s answer was: “The determination of the territory of a Member State is established by its National Constitution and not by an autonomous parliament’s decision contrary to that Constitution”. In English, the answer was less specific: “It is not for the Commission to express a position on questions of internal organisation related to the constitutional arrangements of a particular Member State”.
The Spanish version of Juncker’s answer wasn’t authorised by the EC president and the EC is now investigating who modified the original version. Both answers have been deleted from the homepages of the European Parliament and European Commission.
Catalan Government calls for an enquiry
The Catalan Government today, expressed its strong concern about the alleged manipulation of a reply by the European Commission to a parliamentary question about the political future of Catalonia in the EU ahead a crucial election on 27 September. “The substantial political differences between both versions and the publicity given to the wrong, misleading Spanish text is extremely disturbing, especially as it happens on the back of several recent attempts to instrumentalise the EU in the on-going election campaign in Catalunya”, stated Catalan Permanent Representative to the EU, Amadeu Altafaj.
The Catalan Government deplores this incident and calls the European Commission and the European Parliament to swiftly launch an investigation to clarify “how, where and by who such alleged manipulation happened”.
The Commission’s general position
The EC’s spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud recalled that the EC’s position regarding hypothetical independence of a territory which is part of a Member State is the same as Romano Prodi stated in 2004: the new State would automatically be outside of the EU. However, Brussels has repeatedly assured that it is necessary to have a precise scenario in order to evaluate what would happen, and has named the Catalan and Scottish cases as examples.
So far, the EC has never confirmed whether there is an official request from the Spanish Government to carry out such an analysis regarding Catalunya’s case.