We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

February 02, 2017

Will it come to the use of force in Catalonia?

El Mundo leads today with the headline "Rajoy ready to prevent the referendum by force". The story is that the Spanish government has warned the separatist Catalan regional government of the possibility of "drastic or coercive" measures. Sources within the Prime Minister's office tell El Mundo that this means invoking Article 155 of the Spanish constitution which allows the Spanish government to "force" a regional government to meet its constitutional obligations by directly instructing regional officials. This requires a previous admonition by Rajoy to the respective regional premier that the region is acting against the constitution and the national interest, and he has followed this up with a vote in the senate authorising the government to act. It could come to this if the Catalan government went ahead with plans to call an independence referendum by September, which they have said will happen unilaterally if necessary.

The Spanish government is determined to prevent a repetition of the mock referendum of November 2014 when, after a constitutional court injunction stopping the vote, the regional government allowed grass roots groups to hold the vote anyway at the usual polling places (public schools, mostly) and with access to the voter rosters. Four former members of the Catalan government await trial for their involvement, including the former regional premier Artur Mas, who will appear before the high court of Catalonia next week. To prevent another mock vote, the Spanish government would have no choice but to order the police to seal the voting venues. There are a two options for this. One would be to use the Guardia Civil (a paramilitary force not unlike the French Gerdarmerie or the Italian Carabinieri) which would look like a military invasion and would risk having the Guardia Civil face off with the Catalan regional police, the Mossos d'Esquadra. The other option would be for the Spanish government to command the Mossos directly. This would require invoking Article 155, which El Mundo writes Rajoy is ready to do if it comes to that. This risks having the Mossos split as they would be receiving contradictory orders from Madrid and Barcelona. But it would not look like an invasion.

How did it come to this? At the weekend the radical left separatist CUP finally agreed to support the regional government's budget for 2017, on condition that a referendum is held by September. They threaten to let the Catalan government fall otherwise. And this week there have been reports that the regional government is considering to bring the referendum forward to before the summer, which has alarmed Spanish centralists who want to avoid a vote at all cost.

Show Comments Write a Comment

February 02, 2017

The day Brexit became irreversible

Anybody who still clings onto the belief that Brexit could somehow be averted might just want to digest the sheer scale of last night’s vote in the House of Commons, which voted 498 vs 114 to trigger the Article 50 process. This is not the final vote - the Article 50 bill has to go to the House of Lords - but since yesterday it is no longer possible to argue on the basis that the referendum is not legitimate in its own right. The essential legal debate is now over. 

What we found most impressive during the debate of the last two days has been the intelligent argument by MPs, like George Osborne, who supported the Remain cause but decided, reluctantly, to support the Article 50 bill. They did so not because they changed their mind on Brexit, but because they felt it was politically wrong to frustrate the expressed will of the people. 

It is interesting that we find the economics profession - almost en bloc - seems to be totally insensitive to this political argument. We noted another tweet by a former UK Treasury official, now a member of the Lords, urging for a delay of Article 50 on the grounds that Brexit would be bad for the economy. We expect the noise level to continue, and flare up if the UK economy ever suffers a setback between now and July 1, 2019, the presumptive date when Brexit will take legal force.

The consensus view holds that the EU will try to penalise the British by imposing a high divorce bill, which could lead to a situation where the UK walks out of the talks, and simply crashes out of the EU without an agreement. This is, of course, a possible scenario. But we have argued that the EU-27 should change it negotiating position once it counts the costs of a hard Brexit in political and financial terms. 

We also noted a scoop in the Guardian, on a warning by the European parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, that a hard Brexit would be damaging primarily to the EU - a point we also have made on several occasions. UK-based financial services account for 40% of Europe's assets under management, and 60% of its capital markets business. UK banks provide more than £1.1tn of loans to other EU member states. In other words, a super-hard Brexit would produce a self-inflicted financial crisis. This is why all this talk about penalising Britain can be safely disregarded. Those who make these threats have not thought them through. The article makes the point that the committee's warning reflected a view recently expressed by Mike Carney, who also said the EU faced greater short-term financial risks from a sudden Brexit than the UK. 

The report concludes that it is in the best interests of the EU to retain a very close relation with the UK. If the UK leaves the single market, which is now certain, consideration should be given to third country, equivalence-based passport regimes.

Show Comments Write a Comment

February 02, 2017

Can Trump and May succeed?

We often disagreed with Thilo Sarrazin in the past, but he is asking a legitimate question. Is it possible, as he writes in an essay in FAZ this morning, that the liberal elites' outrage over Brexit and Trump may be due to fear that both could succeed? What would happen in the rest of the world if Trump managed to increase manufacturing employment, which Sarrazin believes is possible? If that were so, more and more people would come to the conclusion that a liberal immigration regime is not a precondition for economic success.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • August 31, 2017
  • Where are the Républicains?
  • Poland unmoved by EU rule-of-law sanctions
  • May will stay through Brexit, and then fight the 2022 elections
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 27, 2017
  • Löfven's move
  • The nearing end of petrol and diesel engines
  • Why a second referendum in the UK won’t happen, and why it would be wrong
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 20, 2017
  • How to soften Brexit?
  • The deep roots of Brexit: Thatcher and the Germans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • July 09, 2018
  • German panic about Target2
  • AfD level with SPD
  • How the EU could fail
  • May 31, 2017
  • Getting real in the debate on the euro's future
  • Russia's growing influence in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • May 28, 2018
  • A no-confidence motion that could backfire
  • The political repercussions of a historic referendum in Ireland
  • Why the lack of an international role for the euro matters
  • May 10, 2017
  • PSOE primary campaign in full swing
  • Czech government crisis escalates
  • Backroom dealing on electoral reform in Italy
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 13, 2018
  • German support for eurozone reform next to zero...
  • ... and no support for France on Syria either
  • A French sermon
  • Why the euro endures
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • March 27, 2017
  • Governing formation troubles - Northern Ireland edition
  • Did Trump present Merkel with a bill for Nato?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • January 08, 2018
  • Getting real on Brexit
  • Macron in China
  • March 01, 2017
  • The threat of Frexit
  • Fear and loathing of a referendum in Spain
  • How to get around Theresa May’s little ECJ issue
  • Solve the problem
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • November 13, 2017
  • A pro-European list: Wauquiez' nightmare
  • Catalan separatism isn't going away
  • Why oh why does Germany behave the way it does?
  • Why the four freedoms matter
  • February 02, 2017
  • Will it come to the use of force in Catalonia?
  • The day Brexit became irreversible
  • Can Trump and May succeed?
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 01, 2018
  • Will France and Germany stick together in their response to US trade tariffs?
  • From a eurozone budget to a slush fund
  • September 18, 2017
  • Why Germany cannot lead Europe, let alone the free world
  • Will Macron help to build up Mélenchon?
  • Boris' Coup
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • February 16, 2018
  • How big will the euro budget be?
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • November 30, 2016
  • Is Russia behind a massive cyber attack in Germany?
  • Will Fillon move to the centre?
  • The Dutch left field is getting crowded
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • April 16, 2018
  • Italy's and Germany's pained response to the Syria attacks
  • On the end of the eurozone's economic honeymoon
  • Why Bulgaria should stay out of the euro
  • Where shall we meet after Brexit?
  • October 16, 2017
  • What‘s the deep meaning of the elections in Lower Saxony?
  • Can Brexit be revoked?
  • Macron's grand narrative
  • April 19, 2017
  • Shadows of money
  • Breppe Grillo vs Eurointelligence
  • October 20, 2016
  • No games please, we are Europeans
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 11, 2018
  • The end of the G7 - good riddance
  • Macron needs allies for his European agenda
  • Who is going to be the next director-general of the Italian treasury?
  • January 29, 2018
  • Where is the opposition in France?
  • Scenarios and risks for Syriza over Macedonia
  • September 21, 2017
  • Time to get serious about Brexit
  • Would the FDP claim the job of finance minister?
  • The return of the ultra-right to German politics
  • May 15, 2017
  • SPD and CDU disagree on how to respond to Macron
  • Was Rajoy blackmailed?
  • The rise of the re-leavers
  • January 05, 2017
  • French Socialist primaries - old wine in new bottles
  • Le Pen's hard ecu
  • Will Tusk get a second mandate?
  • Themes of 2017
  • August 30, 2016
  • Brexit facts on the ground
  • Burkinis and Republican primaries
  • The SPD and TTIP
  • April 25, 2016
  • The death of the Grand Coalition
  • Insurrection against TTIP
  • Juppé to benefit from Macron hype
  • On optimal currency areas
  • Why the Artic region could be the next geopolitical troublespot
  • From a currency to a people
  • June 25, 2018
  • Trump's car tariff to come early
  • On the lack of a sharp focus in the eurozone debate
  • May 23, 2018
  • Mattarella’s limited options
  • April 23, 2018
  • More bad news for the SPD
  • Will Theresa May accept a customs union? The Times says yes. We think so too.
  • A comeback for Marine Le Pen?
  • March 26, 2018
  • On the run no more
  • Terrorist attack will challenge Macron
  • A double-whammy of geopolitical and financial uncertainty
  • February 26, 2018
  • Angela Merkel's cabinet
  • January 30, 2018
  • Will Puigdemont be Catalan premier today?
  • Some thoughts about the German car industry
  • A short note on Italian coalition maths
  • January 05, 2018
  • Catalonia's government by Skype
  • The case for EEA membership
  • December 08, 2017
  • Schulz' Europe
  • November 15, 2017
  • A Christmas bonus for poor Greeks
  • Dim prospects of negotiated de-escalation on Catalonia
  • Macron's favourite to succeed Juncker - first round
  • On sovereignty
  • Gli Azzurri
  • October 24, 2017
  • Is Kaczynski tired of ruling behind the scenes?
  • An era of movements instead of parties?
  • On the decline of the traditional parties
  • October 02, 2017
  • Catalonia recalls EU and eurozone instability
  • French trade unions increase pressure over labour reforms
  • Watch out for a political accident in the UK
  • Municipal elections boost Portugal's Socialists
  • September 11, 2017
  • Turkey issues travel warning for visitors to Germany
  • How nasty is the AfD?
  • August 21, 2017
  • Soft, getting softer
  • Tsipras' chances of a boost
  • On the fallacy of a middle-ground option for the eurozone
  • July 27, 2017
  • Löfven's move
  • The nearing end of petrol and diesel engines
  • Why a second referendum in the UK won’t happen, and why it would be wrong
  • July 10, 2017
  • EU in self-destruction mode
  • The EU's fault lines
  • Fake News and Fake views
  • June 21, 2017
  • Why has the SPD deflated?
  • Berlusconi’s strategy
  • June 05, 2017
  • What happens to Brexit if Labour wins?
  • What Russia wants
  • May 22, 2017
  • Catalonia's independence blueprint
  • Commission wants completion of eurozone by 2025
  • The case for more honesty about the abolition of cash
  • The case against an Italian euro exit
  • May 08, 2017
  • A message of hope
  • Barnier's not so easily agreed Brexit principles
  • The rebirth of the paranoid conspiracy theory
  • April 23, 2017
  • The demise of the AfD has accelerated dramatically
  • On how France will need to confront Germany
  • April 11, 2017
  • What to expect, and not expect from Schulz
  • The view from Berlin
  • The view from Moscow
  • March 31, 2017
  • Will the AfD implode?
  • The parliament vs Dijsselbloem
  • March 22, 2017
  • The Brexit Timetable
  • On what can go wrong in the Article 50 process
  • March 13, 2017
  • Poland and the future of the EU
  • Polls show 40% support for Costa's Socialists
  • Council of Europe questions Spanish constitutional court reform
  • March 05, 2017
  • Poland vs Tusk
  • Juppé - a recovered candidate?
  • Will Italy leave the euro?
  • February 27, 2017
  • May’s next gamble
  • Macron and the rise of the centre
  • Bite the bullet and get on with it
  • Who is the AfD?
  • February 20, 2017
  • SPD ahead of CDU/CSU
  • Fillon bounces back
  • The Brexit timetable
  • February 13, 2017
  • What decides the French elections: cult or programme?
  • Sense and nonsense on globalisation
  • Towards the next European crisis
  • February 08, 2017
  • Fillon faces new allegations
  • Does Martin Schulz really have a chance?
  • Spain's not-so-green taxes
  • Building the Catalan tax database - legally?
  • Reports of the death of Russia’s economy were exaggerated
  • February 06, 2017
  • The Schulz effect, mark III
  • Germany's two asymmetric shocks
  • A Brexit conundrum - or not?
  • February 03, 2017
  • The Schulz effect is getting huge
  • The post-Brexit boom goes on and on and on
  • A correction on Catalonia