Thanks to a friend in Galicia who is far more organised with such things than I am (check out her great blog A Ponte Entre Galiza e Escocia – The Bridge Between Galicia and Scotland), I’ve been able to get a copy of El Periódico from 5 November 2012. This was when the newspaper published a report which claimed that the Partido Popular and the UK Tories had reached an agreement to assert that any country which became independent from an EU member would be expelled from the EU.
The article is no longer online, which is a great pity as it has become even more relevant given the news in the Sunday Herald that Downing St had sent a representative to Madrid to meet with the Partido Popular to discuss Scottish independence. But here is the article in full, in the original Spanish, followed by my translation. I’ve gone for as literal a translation as possible, at the expense of elegance. In instances such as this, it’s the information which is crucial, not the literary style.
My comments are at the end of the translation.
El PP busca apoyos
Los populares intentan coordinarse con otros partidos europeos para expulsar de la UE a cualquier territorio que se independice
A pesar de que el PP considera que la situación de Escocia y Catalunya no tiene parangón, se ha coordinado con el partido conservador británico para dar la misma respuesta ante una posible secesión de estos territorios: si uno de ellos se escinde, quedará fuera de la Unión Europea (UE) y para adherirse deberá hacer frente a la negociación correspondiente y someterse a la votación de los socios y lograr la unanimidad.
El vicesecretario de Estudios y Programas del PP, Esteban González Pons, ha negociado la firma de un acuerdo de colaboración política con los conservadores británicos, que se pondrá negro sobre blanco en diciembre en Madrid.
“Catalunya y Escocia son regiones distintas y tienen problemas distintos, pero la respuesta tiene que ser conjunta,” asegura González Pons.
El dirigente conservador participó en Birmingham en la convención de los conservadores británicos, donde se reunió con los principales líderes para fijar posición.
“Escocia y Catalunya tienen problemas diferentes y sus historias son diferentes. Escocia fue independiente hasta 1707 y Catalunya siempre ha sido una parte de España. Es tan España como Andalucía o Extremadura,” defiende.
La tesis de que una Catalunya o una Escocia independientes quedarían automáticamente fuera de la UE – que no está sustentada sobre ningún dictamen de la Comisión Europea – es la que se va a imponer, según fuentes del PP, porque es la que sostiene el Partido Popular Europeo, del que forman parte la mayoría de gobiernos conservadores del continente en estos momentos.
Así lo pudo comprobar hace dos semanas en Bucarest (Rumanía), donde el PPE celebró un congreso y en el que el PP planteó este asunto ante sus socios en su intento de lograr apoyos a su causa.
“La UE va a cerrar filas en defensa de los grandes estados,” asegura Pons, que recuerda el riesgo de división de Bélgica, las “situaciones” de Córcega y el País Vasco Francés en Francia, de Serdeña en Italia y las de los lands del este en Alemania.
El vicesecretario de Estudios del PP, que tiene previsto viajar en diciembre a Escocia para entrevistarse con conservadores y laboristas, lamenta que CiU haya emprendido el camino de la “política mágica” en este momento de grave inestabilidad económica.
The PP seeks support
The Populares attempt to coordinate with other European parties so that any territory which becomes independent is expelled from the EU.
Despite the fact that the PP considers that the situations of Scotland and Catalonia have no parallel, it has coordinated itself with the British Conservative party in order to give the same response in the face of a possible secession of these territories: if one of them splits off, it will be left outside the European Union and in order to become a member it will have to deal with the corresponding negotiation and submit itself to the vote of existing members and achieve a unanimous vote.
The vice-secretary of Studies and Programme of the PP, Esteban González Pons, has negotiated the signing of an agreement of political collaboration with the British Conservative, which will be put in black and white in December  in Madrid.
“Catalonia and Scotland are distinct regions and have distinct problems, but the response has to be a joint one,” stated González Pons.
The conservative leader particpated in the British Conservative party conference in Birmingham [in early October 2012], where he met with the principal leaders in order to establish position. [ie, to agree a common stance]
“Scotland and Catalonia have different problems and their histories are different. Scotland was independent until 1707 and Catalonia has always been a part of Spain. It is as much Spain as Andalusia or Extremadura,” he asserted.
The thesis that an independent Catalonia or Scotland would be automatically out of the EU – which is not sustained in any ruling from the European Commission – is the one that is going to be imposed, according to sources from the Partido Popular, because it is the one that the European Popular Party upholds, the grouping to which the majority of conservative governments on the continent currently belong.
So it was confirmed two weeks ago in Bucharest (Romania), where the European Popular Party proposed this subject to its members in their intent to achieve support for their cause.
“The EU is going to close ranks in defence of the big states,” asserted Pons, who recalled the risk of division in Belgium, the “situations” in Corsica and the French Basque Country in France, of Sardinia in Italy and the Länder of the east of Germany.
The PP vicesecretary of studies, who has a journey to Scotland planned in December  to meet with Conservatives and the Labour party, regretted that the CiU [the main party in the pro-sovereignty coalition in government in Catalonia] had set off on the path of “political magic” in this moment of serious economic instability.
End of translation
This week’s news that there have been further meetings between the Partido Popular and the Tories, with the express intention of discussing Scottish independence, is further confirmation of the EU stitch up which the Tories and the Partido Popular are jointly planning for Scotland and Catalonia.
The European Popular Party mentioned in the article from el Periódico is a grouping of right wing and centre right wing parties in the European Parliament. Despite the similarity in the names the Spanish Partido Popular (Popular Party) is a different organisation, although it is a member of the European Popular Party grouping.
The British Conservatives are not currently members, they left during one of the Tories’ regular bouts of Eurohuffing, but they retain close links with other European centre right parties.
As I recalled in the previous post, when Newsnet Scotland asked the Labour party and the Conservatives for their comments on González Pons’ claims, they did not return the calls. The Tories did however strongly deny that there had been any agreement with the Partido Popular, although they did not deny that they had met with their Spanish conservative counterparts in order to discuss the situations in Scotland and Catalonia.
Now we know that they are continuing to meet and to discuss Scottish independence, although apparently without agreeing on anything. It must just be a weird coincidence then that both the UK and the Spanish governments continue to assert that Scotland and Catalonia would be out on their ears if they vote for independence, and both assert that this is what the EU treaties say – despite the fact that the EU treaties do not mention anything at all about what happens when there’s a successful independence referendum within part of an EU member state.
There is no EU ruling, both Spain and the UK refuse to ask the EU Commission for one. Yet we constantly hear that it is a “fact” that Scotland would leave the EU automatically.
But it’s not a fact at all, it’s just political spin. It’s a line thought up by right wing politicians in private meetings, a naked attempt to create a fact by stating it repeatedly and in concert in Madrid and London – and by other members of the right wing European political club, like Herman van Rompuy of the Belgian CDV, which is also aligned to the European Popular Party.
It’s not an agreement. Oh no. It’s serendipity, it’s a pleasing coincidence of mutual usefulness for the Tories and the Partido Popular. That’s why they keep having meetings, so they can have a wee marvel at the unexplained synchronicity of it all. “Oh you know Estabán, I said the exact same thing about the EU – like word for word! Isn’t that weird? OMG!”
There’s either been an eerie sequence of convenient coincidences sufficient to fill a very poorly plotted novel, or the Conservatives, the Partido Popular, and other right wing European unionist parties have arrived at an understanding – but not an agreement – to provide one another with an EU alibi to use against their respective independentistas. Whichever is the case, it is still not a fact that an independent Scotland would immediately exit the EU.
But don’t hold your breath for an explanation from the Scottish Tories about why they’re meeting with the Partido Popular to discuss Scottish independence, it’s only supporters of independence who have questions to answer … that’s doubtless something else that they thought up in their late night meetings.