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Compte enrere

19 de febr. 2018

TEXT: Instructions by Judge Llarena, January 9 2018

Traducció no oficial, feta per M. McNaught i M. Strubell. Original: https://issuu.com/joseprexachfumanya/docs/providencia_citaciones_y_diligencia

Supreme Court. – Second Chamber

APPEAL: 003 / 0020907 / 2017

ISSUED BY INSTRUCTING JUDGE His Excellency, Sr. Don Pablo Llarena Conde

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18 de febr. 2018

TEXT: Catalonia's legimitate right to decide



NICOLAS LEVRAT, Professor at the University of Geneva, coordinator of the Report 
SANDRINA ANTUNES, Professor at the Universidade do Minho
GUILLAUME TUSSEAU, Professor at Sciences Po, Paris
PAUL WILLIAMS, Professor at American University in Washington, DC


Full report 162 pp.

Executive summary (20 pp.)

The academic paper on The Legitimacy of Catalonia’s Exercise of its Right to Selfdetermination discusses the legitimacy of the Government of Catalonia’s current efforts to let the Catalan people exercise their Right to Decide on their political destiny. These efforts build upon Catalonia’s previous attempts to consolidate representative governance for Catalan citizens within and conjointly with the Spanish democratic state. Four internationally recognized experts were invited by the Government of Catalonia to examine the controversy generated by the call for a self-determination referendum. This has been convened in the face of the opposition of the Spanish authorities which contest its legality, unlike the recent examples of the trend towards the recognition of self-determination, of which the most salient is that of Scotland’s referendum on independence. The experts have analyzed the dispute and the arguments at several levels of discourse, simultaneously debating the respective relevance of the different legal corpora in which the applicable rules are to be found and implemented, and on the substance of the rights to be respected or fostered.


As a result of their research and reflections, the authors come to the following conclusions and recommendations on the Right to Decide and the Catalan Government’s call for an independence referendum in October the 1st:

1. The evolution of the negotiating process between the Catalan and Spanish governments since the re-establishment of democracy in 1977 through time has allowed us to identify key moments of a deteriorating political relationship where the Spanish government has gradually renounced the accommodation of Catalan territorial demands. The evolution of this relationship sheds a new light on the tortuous path towards the legally binding referendum on political independence to be held on the 1st October 2017.

2. The upsurge in territorial demands towards political independence was put on the political agenda by organized Catalan civil society immediately after the passing of the Constitutional Tribunal ruling in 2010. Additionally, there has been a clear shift in popular territorial preferences, moving from preferences asking for the maintenance of the current “status quo” to demands of “political independence,” irrespective of people’s age.

3. Catalan popular demand for a referendum on political independence has been largely justified by the democratic “Right to Decide”, which has evolved from the more traditional and long-standing legal framework to the “national right to self-determination”. In other words, demands for political independence have been legitimized by a democratic principle invested in the Catalan people, reinforced by the repeated denial to accommodate Catalonia’s demands by the Spanish government.

4. From an international law perspective, it appears clearly that there is no international legal prohibition barring a sub-state entity from deciding its political destiny by assessing the will of its people. Both case law and state practice support this conclusion. State practice demonstrates that numerous geographically diverse sub-state entities have expressed the will of their people regarding independence. The practice occurs both with and without the consent of the national state. Many sub-state entities have achieved independence after assessing the political will of their people. EU member states have recognized many former sub-state entities that assessed their people’s political will and decided to pursue independence.

5. As regards European Law, in the absence of specific Treaty provision on the right of Self-determination for a European people without a State in the territory of the EU, EU law does not forbid the exercise of its Right to Decide for a European people within the EU. There are even numerous Treaty provisions that indicate that if such Right were to be exercised, EU and its member States would react positively to a new European State candidacy to join the EU. Recent and consistent practice clearly points that way. Further, both as a collectively exercised human right and as a fundamental norm of international Law, EU recognizes the Right to Decide.

6. As regard the constitutionality of the claim for the Right to Decide, it is necessary from an empirical viewpoint, and fruitful from a normative one, to give up the quest for a supreme constitutional interpreter. What is crucial in a constitutional state that is faithful to the ambitions of constitutionalism is the ongoing dialogue about, and engagement with, constitutional values and principles. Only this will make the constitution a living document, infused by the competing interpretations of values and principles that, by their very nature, admit various readings and conceptions. The quest for the final word is useless, illusory and possibly lethal from the political viewpoint of a healthy deliberative community.

7. In that respect, the debate is much more open than what one might think at first sight by examining too rapidly the basic features of contemporary constitutionalism, especially as it is illustrated by the Spanish constitutional system. Far from being disruptive of the constitutional project that was adopted in 1978, the Catalan claim to the Right to Decide on its political future precisely testifies to a genuine commitment to the ongoing constitutional dialogue that is legitimate in an open society. That is why simply dismissing this claim as “unconstitutional” cannot be an attitude that lives up to the high standard of political morality that is imposed by the ideal of constitutionalism.

8. Democratic legitimacy at Catalan and Spanish levels may both be legitimate, even though the principle of external preference limits the capacity of Spain to permanently oppose the democratic choice of Catalonia. However, when conflicting political legitimacies compete, there is a duty for democratic authorities to negotiate. This is confirmed by the observation of international practice that in almost all instances, the sub-state entity and national state negotiate the contours of the assessment of political will.

9. Further, in a genuine liberal democracy, rule of law may not trump democratic legitimacy, nor the other way around; therefore, in a modern democratic State, rule of law and democratic legitimacy need to be reconciled and cannot in the long term remain opposed. In the context of a vote of self-determination, as is the case, the national
framework will inevitably be inappropriate because the existing democratic processes to address the issue did not allow for a solution or a process to emerge. A change of scale thus appears necessary by justifying either locally or internationally (or both) the organization of a referendum. If Spanish national Authorities deny the right to Catalonia to negotiate its Right to Decide within the Spanish political framework, then the only path left for
Catalonia’s Authorities is the call for a self-determination referendum.

10. Thus, whatever the conflicting claims of legitimacy put forward by the political actors, international practice and transconstitutional jurisprudence show that successful selfdetermination processes always rely at some point on a negotiation procedure. In that perspective, the experts recommend the exploration of an earned sovereignty negotiating process within the framework of the EU. This would imply involvement by EU institutions; we consider it possible in the perspective of a negotiation within the EU, fully implying Spain in seeking for Catalonia a constrained sovereignty solution, as a full member of the EU.