What an independent Catalonia could look like

Catalonia’s regional leader Carles Puigdemont says he will unilaterally declare independence from Spain following a “yes” vote in Sunday’s referendum.

Catalonia’s regional leader Carles Puigdemont says he will unilaterally declare independence from Spain following a “yes” vote in Sunday’s referendum.

The pro-independence leader says under Catalan law, a vote exceeding 50 per cent triggers an announcement of secession within 48 hours.

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The region has claimed 90 per cent of those who voted opted to leave Spain. But Madrid has condemned the poll as illegal and invalid.

Fewer than half of those eligible to vote cast a ballot. All of the 7.5 million people of Catalonia could now find themselves on a collision course with Spain.

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Would an independent Catalonia be internationally recognised?

So far no international bodies have expressed support for Catalonia’s independence.

The European Union stands solidly behind Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

So if Catalonia declares independence, it will be expelled from the bloc and will be unable to use the euro currency.

Catalonia could find itself isolated after secession from Spain.

What will the currency be?

If Catalonia secedes from Spain it will need to apply to join the European Union.

This will require agreement from all member states, including Spain.

Until it is allowed entry into the bloc it will not be permitted to use euros and will need to create a new currency.

What would the economic impact of independence be?

One of the great motivators for independence was the sense of injustice felt by the people of Catalonia. “Madrid nos roba” – Madrid is robbing us – they chanted.

In 2014, Catalonia paid 10 billion euros more in taxes than was reinvested into the region.

It is Spain’s richest region, making up one fifth of the country’s economy, with an annual GDP of 215 billion euros – more than the whole of Greece.

A quarter of Spain’s foreign exports come from Catalonia, but it is currently unclear if other countries will agree to trade directly if it secedes.

It is also the most popular region with tourists, which could be a boon for the new economy.

How are countries created?

Catalonia already has many of the institutions normally associated with statehood.

It has a national flag, a leader – Carles Puigdemont, a parliament, its own police force.

It also provides certain public services such as schools and hospitals.

But in order to establish a country it needs a great deal more.

It would require border control, an army, a tax system, air traffic control, airports, foreign affairs and trains. All of this is costly and it is unclear whether Catalonia would have the funds to pay for them.

Is secession purely symbolic?

Many suspect Catalonia’s declaration of independence would be little more than symbolic.

The region will be able to remove Spanish flags from buildings, but little else.

How could Spain respond?

Spain could respond to Catalonia’s declaration of independence in two main ways. The regional police could be put under control of Spain’s national police. If necessary, the Spanish police could take the regional police by force.

Or, if Spain considered its sovereignty to be under attack, it could suspend civil rights and impose martial law.

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