No way Pedro?

This weekend a referendum is being held on Catalonian independence. While I certainly respect the view that the Catalan’s should be allowed to choose their own fate. However I do worry if this referendum is more a reaction to austerity policies from the right wing government in Madrid, rather than due to an actual desire for independence. At the risk of sounding like Alastair Darling, but independence is for life not just till we kick out the right wing penny pinching ba$£ards! :))

One cannot help but notice that while Scottish independence has enjoyed support in the region of 30 – 40% for quite a few decades, Catalonian independence rated at less than 30% until the last few years.

And what derailed Scottish independence was the fact that it became clear the SNP hadn’t worked out the basics, such as what currency Scot’s would use or how they would join the EU. Similarly one has to ask the Catalonian independence supporters, if you get independence what currency do you plan on using?

Please don’t say the Euro, because I think you’ll find you have to be an EU member for that. To join the EU would take time, years at the least and that assumes the rest of Spain co-operates. And the noises coming out of Madrid suggest they will not. In the mean time Catalonia would be in economic limbo…or possibly economic freefall. No sane bank nor financial institution could base itself here knowing there was no lender of last resort and the government in Catalonian lacked even the most basic controls over its own economy. Keep in mind here that the services sector is 67% of the Catalonian economy.

Then there’s more fundamental problems, e.g. who will pay the pensions of retiree’s or unemployed persons in Catalonia? The SNP, to their credit, had worked out a plan for this one, but I don’t hear anything from Catalonia. One assumes Madrid would be pretty quick to turn off the tap and that’s going to be hugely disruptive to many people’s lives (as in old dears living on charity and eating cat food sort of thing) and would probably lead to rioting and unrest pretty quickly.

And if the Catalan government plans to pick up the tab, where’s the money going to come from? Can they afford it? Presumably they’ll borrow in the short term, then rely on taxes, but who would lend them money? Scotland had its oil and high value exports to rely on, neither of which are options for Catalonia. It would be likely paying the sort of credit card interest rates Greece was being charged during the height of the Eurozone crisis, which would be unsustainable.

And what about power, water, transportation? Many of these things are administered by companies or state bodies based outside of the region (again, not the case for Scotland), what if the rest of Spain decides to just turn all these services off? One assumes a rather thirsty Catalonian PM will emerge within a few days with a white flag and his tail between his legs.

There are two nuclear power plants in Catalonia, although I can’t help but notice that they are owned by companies based outside of Catalonia. Now in theory, there’s nothing to stop said company exporting power from these plants to Spain (assuming the Spanish pay for it with their Euro’s of course) while Catalonians sit in the dark. One assumes the Catalonians could cease control of the plants and nationalise them, although that in itself opens a can of worms.

One of those “issues” regarding Scottish independence was the topic of nuclear waste. My assumption was that the rUK would agree to take responsibility for such waste. As a nuclear armed state, the UK is obliged by various international treaties to take care of its nuclear material, particularly anything that could have bomb making potential. And given the issues surrounding Dounreay, that would more or less oblige the rUK to do the right thing.

However, Scotland also has four commercial nuclear power stations. One assumes that while the rUK would take over the waste from these plants as well. But it would only be fair and reasonable to expect the Scottish government to pay some, if not most, of the decommissioning costs of these plants (about £2 billion per plant!). As well as paying some additional amount to the rUK to cover its costs for long term disposal and storage costs of said waste. One of the things I was always curious regarding Scottish independence is how the SNP, and their generally anti-nuclear supporters, would react to the dropping of this Lead balloon! 88|

However in Catalonia the situation is very different. Spain is not under the same obligations as the UK and has very limited capabilities to handle its own nuclear waste (which is one of the reasons the country has stopped building reactors) let alone that of what would now be a foreign country. There are btw no waste handling facilities within Catalonia (meaning they couldn’t even operate the plants, nor even safely shut them down without help from Spain!). In theory the Spanish might well just toss the keys to the plant at the Catalonians, tell them it’s you’re plant now…oh and FYI don’t open the doors to the warehouse out back unless you fancy earning an instant suntan! Can the Catalans handle/manage a sizable pile of nuclear waste? What are they going to do with it? How are they planning on paying for its disposal?

Again, I’m not saying Catalonia isn’t entitled to independence. I’m merely asking the awkward questions that I fear nobody in the country is asking. Because if they can’t come up with some answers they’ll either find themselves unable to gain independence, or forced to rely so much on the rest of Spain it will render their independence practically moot.

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3 thoughts on “No way Pedro?

    • Just playing devil’s advocate.

      Actually I’d blame Madrid a lot for this. In much the same way Westminster could have nipped things in the bud 3 year ago by making sure Devo Max was on the ballot paper. Madrid have been about as diplomatic towards Catalonia as a UKIP member at the Notting hill carnival.

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      • it’s all about power and money in both Scotland and Catalonia – if we were a burden on uk economy the cons would ditch us.
        Also our history is important – we were an independent nation for 300 odd years and although the referendum kinda gave credence to the current position of our oldies (aged population who had the best of the union ).. the future belongs to the younger generation – and i am pleased and proud of their pro indenpence stand

        personally i think we should all go back to the neolithic days of skara brae and live in small sustainable communities that neither consume to death nor pollute the environment and only have to wage war against the odd viking or two!

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