After yesterday’s scenes of Police violence in Catalonia during the independence referendum which the Government in Madrid had deemed illegal, we have seen all manner of calls for the EU to take some kind of action. What this action might be is often not specified, and when it is, it is clear that those making the proposals have not acquainted themselves with the relevant parts of EU law.
Las Ramblas, Barcelona
The provision that many have latched on to is Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty, which does exist, and does provide for suspension of some participation in EU affairs of a member state. The problem for those claiming this includes a wording that allows for suspension for using military force on its civilians … is that it does not.
That has not been allowed to enter, as the claim has been trotted out time and again. A sample trawl of Tweets shows the same wording coming up. “Article 7 of the European Union Treaty ‘Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population’ … Article 7 of the European Union Treaty ‘Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population’ … Dear @JunckerEU : Article 7 of the European Union Treaty ‘Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population’. Please share”. And there was more.
“Article 7 of the EU Treaty calls for suspension of any Member State which uses military force against its own people. Catalonia is waiting … Article 7 of the European Union Treaty ‘Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population’”.
So there you have it: there were many more in the same vein. So shall we see what Article 7 actually says? Here are the relevant three paragraphs.
One, “On a reasoned proposal by one third of the Member States, by the European Parliament or by the European Commission, the Council, acting by a majority of four fifths of its members after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2. Before making such a determination, the Council shall hear the Member State in question and may address recommendations to it, acting in accordance with the same procedure. The Council shall regularly verify that the grounds on which such a determination was made continue to apply”.
Two, “The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2, after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations”.
Three, “Where a determination under paragraph 2 has been made, the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may decide to suspend certain of the rights deriving from the application of the Treaties to the Member State in question, including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that Member State in the Council. In doing so, the Council shall take into account the possible consequences of such a suspension on the rights and obligations of natural and legal persons.The obligations of the Member State in question under the Treaties shall in any case continue to be binding on that State”.
And just for completeness, here’s Article 2, which Article 7 references. “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.
The wording “Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population” is not there. Moreover, the sanction of suspension is not a foregone conclusion - it is certainly not an automatic or mandatory action.
All of which means the claims circulating on social media about “Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population” are so much Fake News.
You don’t like what happened in Catalonia? Fine. But don’t invent your own facts.
The Guardia Civile and police violence is inexcusable and highly predictable. As is the CRS in France. You do not ask those people the time without receiving a sound beating. They are and always have been uniformed thugs.
The question of Catalan independence has been badly handled by both sides, the Madrid government probably the worst offender. The Civil War still leaves raw memories.
But this is part of a historical schismatic shift that began with the unlamented break up of the old totalitarian Soviet Union. If the biggest country in the world could break up, why not all the other fragile "unions"? The examples are everywhere, including Britain. And, potentially, the USA.
People need to ask themselves the common sense question: Who benefits from all this mayhem and obsolescent tribalism?
It generally takes about 10 years for the longer lasting effects of a global financial crash to start coming to the surface.
Spain is merely the latest situation where people want significant change in the hope it can be different next time.
As I heard about ten years ago.
“When people lose everything, the lose it”. The Spanish Government lost it. Let them have the vote, its what happens afterwards which matters.
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