Canadell: “Once Catalonia gets independence, Spain will break up”
Versió en CATALÀ disponible aquí
ORIOL JORDAN. Joan Canadell is one of the founders of Cercle Català de Negocis, an economical lobby who has spent five years working hard on building the Catalan state from an economical and corporate point of view. Canadell is its current secretary general. We meet at a well-known cafe in Barcelona and the strength of his arguments makes an outraged citizen spontaneously react, while holding a copy of El Mundo as if he had just gone down from Mount Sinai and had come to illuminate.
The motto of Cercle Català de Negocis is “Businesspeople for the own State”. Are you businesspeople for the own State or for the independence?
When we started, we noticed that the word ‘independence’ could bring about rejection. People linked it to conflicts and wars; it had a connotation of a break. Then, we adopted the expression ‘own State’ because it sounded more positive. Now we use both, because they mean the same for us.
So you will call for Yes+Yes in the referendum.
Which does CCN think is the alternative if we aren’t allowed to hold the vote?
The European election. If we run in the election with a joint list of candidates of the four parties in favour of the right to decide plus some independents such as Maragall, this would make a boost to the movement. The turnout would exceed the expectations.
Would it be read as a plebiscitary election?
First of all, Europe wouldn’t be able to ignore it. What’s more, we’d have as a back-up a clear and positive result for independence or at least self-determination. The parties for the right to decide can declare the independence through a Unilateral Declaration of Independence on the grounds of the result of the European election.
What about holding a plebiscitary vote in the next Catalan election?
We don’t like this option. The plebiscitary election isn’t that clear; federalism could add confusion to the process. Suppose that the result is 40% independence, 40% federalism and 20% statu quo; this wouldn’t allow us to declare the independence unilaterally. And we want to win.
As regards the video of the Garcias, the presenter gave a lot of information all in Spanish. Who was it aimed for?
Since we were founded, we’ve always thought that we are the ones to be convinced first. Without this, it’ll be hard to progress. The video aims a large sector of population who usually gets the information from Spanish media, and who is mainly Spanish-speaking and living in Barcelona metropolitan area.
Is the purpose of the Cercle Català de Negocis information to people or supporting businesses?
When we were established, we decided to be a lobby to speed the process up. We knew we had to do it in two ways: the economic –ours- and the social one. There’s no independence without a social majority.
Cercle d’Economia is still calling for a fiscal agreement…
They’ve tried to stop the process until they were pushed by people. On the contrary, we are speeding it up, we’re in line with the society and even one step ahead of the institutions, because we’ve been working on that during five years.
Are you in touch with the trade associations, do you get any feedback?
CCN is member of PIMEC, so we can contribute. We’ve got a good relationship with CECOT’s president and secretary general and some members of CCN are also part of CECOT and FEMCAT. We’ve had little contact with Cercle de Economia and no touch with Foment, because we haven’t found the way to do so.
Are the biggest businesspeople the ones more opposed to independence?
We don’t really distinguish between big or small, but between the businessmen who live off the State and those who don’t. There’s more tolerance to these companies, whose executives can be frequently found in the box seats of the Bernabéu stadium, and which later feed the politicians through great salaries at their administrative councils.
And what about the Catalan big companies?
They are cautious. We can find a few against it, such as Lara and Freixenet. Take Grífols, we know them. If the new State helps businesses, Grífols will be in favour. Petromiralles had launched a campaign saying that they are an independent oil company, and that caused the arrest of two of their executives. That’ll most likely lead them to a state of insolvency. If you face Spain, you’ll pay for it, and that’s why they are so cautious.
Lara says that we will move Planeta to Spain should Catalonia be independent. There’s a willingness to scare the population on the grounds that if big companies don’t show interest on the process, this is not going to work. Why should we believe so?
Spain’s main argument is fear. As long as they frighten people, they will slow the process. The other one is the shared history. This shouldn’t be an issue anymore now, though. On the other hand, they know that the way to stop us is through military action. Azaña said once that Barcelona has to be shelled every 50 years.
As economical contributors of Europe, if we leave the Spanish plundering, will we be plundered by the poorest states of Europe?
No, we’ve studied that in-depth. Austria contributes €1000 million per annum in European solidarity, we could reach €2000 million –compared to the annual 16000 million plundered by Spain it’s much better. We must contribute to Europe because we believe in Europe.
And what about the Spanish debt?
We could assume the 11 or 12% of the overall debt, which is the figure invested by Spain in Catalonia in the last years. Usually this is calculated with averages. Taking into account the GDP or the population, Europa would push for 16% (population) and Madrid for 19% or 20% (GDP). We’ll see.
As a citizen, what are your feelings about the process?
The collective self-confidence has made a boost after the demonstration on 11th September 2012. And it’s still rising. We don’t know anyone who after getting on board, gets off. What is true is that some people are in a hurry. The process, quicker or slower, is irreversible without a doubt.
What will happen to Spain?
Two years ago we said that once Catalonia gets its independence, Spain will break-up. We’ve already seen some movement in the Balearic Islands, in Valencia and even in Aragon or Andalusia. When Catalonia starts off this process by getting full sovereignty, we won’t see 17 processes, but we could see up to six. We might witness two waves, with Catalonia and the Basque Country in two years’ time, Valencia and the Balearic Islands in five… Spain hasn’t got good foundation so the best for it would be to split into different economic logical units, not political, so as to find competitiveness in Europe and the world.
Where will we be on 1st January 2015?
I think we won’t be independent, but we’ll have shown to the world that the process is irreversible. The thing is not all Catalans believe that there’s no turning back, let alone the rest of the world. We’ll have done enough steps to prove it and the informal talks through some international mediators between Europe, Catalonia and Spain –who will have to start discussions- will have started. Once this takes place, we Catalans will already feel independent and we’ll learn to be patient. Hurry is never good for talks.
Interview translated by Guifré Jordan