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Home » Content » The Council of Europe turns its back on Catalan separatism: it will not admit referendums that do not respect the Constitution
The Venice Commission gives the green light to the code of good practice for conducting this type of consultation

Gisela Revelles  / 10/18/2020
 “Starred” banners during a game at the Camp Nou Photo: Reuters

The Venice Commission, the body of the Council of Europe in charge of ensuring all matters relating to constitutional law in the EU, has given the green light to a new code of good practice on the holding of referendums in member countries. A document that confirms that the EU will not support a referendum on the independence of Catalonia until this issue is covered by the Spanish Constitution.

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In point 13, the code, to which elliberal.cat has had access, states, for example, that “the questions submitted to a referendum may be of a constitutional, legislative or even administrative nature”. These questions may be related to the ratification of treaties or territorial issues. It is at this last point where the Venice Commission supports the EU’s position against the Catalan separatist referendum: “They can be related to territorial issues, such as the creation or merger of sub-national entities, as well as their secession, in the rare cases in which the national Constitution allows it”. It is clear, therefore, that, without a reform of the Spanish Constitution that contemplates the possibility of holding a consultation on independence, the EU will not approve a separatist referendum.

Respect “all legal order”

As if it were not sufficiently clear, in article 1 of section II, the Venice Commission indicates that “the use of the referendum must respect the entire legal order”. And it adds: “In particular, the referendum cannot be organized if the Constitution or a law in accordance with the Constitution does not provide for it, for example, if the text is the exclusive competence of Parliament”.

Thus, and despite the constant appeals to the EU made by separatism in general, the reality is that it has not moved an iota from the line that it has defended up to now with respect to this issue. The EU considers the Catalan independence problem as an internal issue in Spain that must be resolved within the national legal framework. Now, with the code of good practice on referendums, this position has been confirmed even more clearly and forcefully.



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