Much has been said and debated lately in this country about consultations and referendums: their legal viability, the possible recipients, whether they could be binding or not, etc., especially in relation to a possible referendum on the independence of Catalonia. In this field we would like to highlight a fundamental right of citizens, such as the transparency and the right to know, and this in any of the actions of public institutions and positions, therefore including referendums.
Consultations through referendums must be approached in a way that citizens can, first of all, understand the content of the question (s), and above all the consequences of their possible answers. In the case, for example, of a possible referendum on the eventual independence of Catalonia, and so that citizens are not mocked or denied with the consultation, they should be informed, when formulating the question, of what it would entail in practice. that possible independence.
More specifically, if the independence of Catalonia automatically led to its departure from the European Union, since that is what would automatically and inexorably occur according to the EU treaty (preamble, and articles 4, 49 and 52), as well as several pronouncements of the European Commission, other international organizations such as the Committee of the Regions, and many different national and foreign experts.
Even if an admission process as a new member could be started later, it would need the approval of each and every one of the 27 members of the EU, in a process with a very unlikely result and that in any case would last many years. This consequent departure of Catalonia from the EU, should be known to citizens before casting their vote, and the question asked in that possible referendum should not hide this consequence.
In this sense, and for the sake of transparency, a question should be asked, for example, of the following type: “Would you agree with the independence of Catalonia from Spain, and its departure from the European Union?” For many citizens, the independence of Catalonia could be a priority if it could be done without consequences in a European sense; but knowing that this exit would lead to the exit from the European Union, there will be many pro-independence citizens who prefer to preserve and put their European citizenship before an eventual Catalan citizenship that would remove them from the EU.
Citizens’ right to know before a referendum would also entail the necessary knowledge of the path or the way in which the independence process would be carried out, and that is why the pro-independence parties should explain before the referendum the way in which they would face the consequent institutional, economic and social changes, conditioned to a large extent by their lack of space in the current Constitution.
For example, they should explain in their Independence Plan, the form and means they would use to dispense (or expel, in the event of a probable conflict or disagreement derived from a possible unilateral path) to the Army, the Judges, the Public Bodies, the Forces security (Police and Civil Guard) etc. of the territories of Catalonia, or how they were going to resolve the issue of citizens’ pensions, whose previous contributions are in the single state Social Security fund, or how they were going to address the issue of borders (controls, tariffs, etc.). with the rest of Spain and with the other countries, or the impossibility of having or issuing euros due to leaving the Monetary Union, or even the loss of European funds granted to Spain, among other issues.
Presumably they have already thought (it would be worrying if they had not) how they are going to face these problems in an independence process, but so far transparency is conspicuous by its absence, and citizens have not received any information about these important issues arising from that eventual independence. Neither have the other parties, the non-independence parties, informed citizens and encouraged debate on these issues, so that citizens have not even been able to think about them, and they must necessarily limit themselves to tense in a generic and uninformed way. on his position in favor or against this possible independence of Catalonia.
We believe, therefore, when the moment of transparency, and the clarification of many of these questions, before thinking and deciding without further ado on that possible referendum of self-determination. As long as these possible consequences of independence are not elucidated, and therefore the possible content of the question in the referendum, undoubtedly very clarifying for the citizens, the idea of proposing an independence referendum will not cease to be a heavenly music (for the credulous), of the parties that propose it, ignoring that the citizens –informed– are much more rational and mature than what many politicians believe –and would like–. It is time to speak now, in short, of transparency and the right to know of society in relation to the content and characteristics of that eventual referendum.