The EU needs to prepare for the inevitable

I'm sure many of you will have noticed from the blog list on the right that the Catalan Parliament this week approved a Declaration of Sovereignty as one of the steps leading towards a referendum on independence in 2014. The full text of the Declaration is here, and this is a short report from Euronews.


In the clip, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, the leader of the Spanish Partido Popular in the Catalan parliament, claimed that "most of the Catalonian people don't want independence and don't want this division". And even the report in the Guardian claimed that opinion is "evenly divided" over Catalan independence. But neither of these claims is true.

This is a graphic showing the result of a GESOP poll in El Periódico on Sunday:


If the [Spanish] State opposes the referendum, should it be carried out anyway?

Yes ... 62.9%
No ... 30.5%
Don't know/won't say ... 6.6%

Do you agree that Catalunya should be independent from Spain and become a new state within the EU?

Agree ... 56.9%
Disagree ... 35.0%
Don't know/won't say ... 8.2%

GESOP poll for El Periódico, 20 January 2013

The percentage in favour of independence is almost exactly the same as it was in the Baròmetre d’Opinió Política of November last year, which was 57.0%. Details here. As I said then, Catalan independence looks like a cast-iron certainty.

The EU is an organization that isn't usually inclined to make decisions until it has to. It hasn't particularly addressed the issue of Scotland's place in the EU simply because the opinion polls show that there is a considerable degree of uncertainty about whether Scotland will vote for independence. Nor is it likely to particularly address the UK's place in the EU either, because there's an even greater degree of uncertainty about the Tories winning the next UK election with a mandate to renegotiate the UK's terms of membership and hold a referendum.

But the political will of the Catalan Parliament and the degree of public support shown in the opinion polls should be enough, surely, to get the EU to start answering questions about how it will accommodate Catalunya as a new member state in its own right.

Update - 19:27, 26 January 2013

Another poll by CEO was published on 7 January, although the fieldwork was conducted in late September and early October 2012. This was before the post-election agreement between CiU and ERC for the referendum to be held some time in 2014.

Vostè està totalment a favor, més aviat a favor, més aviat en contra o totalment en contra que Catalunya sigui un nou estat d'Europa en els propers anys?

Are you totally in favour, rather in favour, rather against or totally against Catalunya becoming a new state in Europe in the coming years?

Totally in favour ... 49.9%
Rather in favour ... 19.4%
Rather against ... 10.6%
Totally against ... 13.5%
Don't know ... 4.5%
Won't say ... 2.1%

Overall in favour ... 69.3%
Overall against ... 24.1%

CEO Òmnibus, 7 January 2013 – Question 31, page 22

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No real appetite?

In the Western Mail today, Damian Green, the Minister of State for Police and Criminal Justice in Englandandwales, said there was "no real appetite" for devolving powers over police and criminal justice to Wales.

He couldn't be more wrong about that.

Two recent opinion polls on the subject show that a significant majority of people in Wales want policing to be devolved. In 2009 the figures were:

For each of the following issues, please indicate which level of government you think should have responsibility for making decisions relating to it in Wales:


The Welsh Assembly Government ... 50%
The UK Government at Westminster ... 33%
Local Councils in Wales ... 10%
The European Union ... 1%
Don't know ... 7%

YouGov / Prifysgol Aberystwyth, October 2009

And in 2011 the figures were:

Would you like to see the Assembly gain responsibility for police and the criminal justice system?

Yes ... 56.7%
No ... 26.0%
Don't know/unsure ... 17.3%

RMG-Clarity, March 2011


Politicians who are opposed to the devolution of policing and criminal justice to Wales are simply following their own political agenda, for public opinion in Wales is in favour of it by a very large margin.

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What will the Government do about Welsh?

Welsh was one of the subjects raised during First Minister's Questions in the Senedd earlier today.


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More rubbish in the Western Mail

Gwilym Levell has been spewing his bile on the letters page of the Western Mail for long enough to become a comedy legend. But even I was surprised that the editor published this piece of blatant misinformation from him today.

SIR – Is Aled G Jôb for real? (Letters, 26 December)

It is well known that less than half the population of the four heartland counties can speak Welsh, less than a quarter can read it, less than one eighth can write it, yet he wants those four county councils to conduct all the business in Welsh to provide jobs for Welsh-speakers and gross inconvenience for more than half the population ...

Western Mail Letters, 4 January 2013

The actual figures are here. In total there are 436,681 people aged three or over in Ynys Môn, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Sir Gâr.

228,580 of them (52.3%) can speak Welsh; 200,447 of them (45.9%) can speak and read Welsh; and 183,627 of them (42.1%) can speak, read and write Welsh.

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Blwyddyn Newydd Dda


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