A leading Spanish businessman has warned that Catalonia could undergo economic collapse if it gains independence.
Josep Bou, the president of ‘Entrepreneurs of Catalonia’ warns that the secessionist process has meant that Catalan companies have stopped earning 1 billion euros. He warns that if Catalonia achieves independence the region would undergo an exodus of business personnel. And GDP would fall between 16 and 20 percent while unemployment would soar to 42 percent.
Mr Bou said: “We know perfectly well that this would become an exodus, Catalonia would go into an economic collapse.” He added that foreign investment “is working well” because the independence process has “no credibility” abroad. However, he pointed out that foreign investment is half in Catalonia compared to the investment in Madrid.
Authorities in Catalonia pledge that they will hold a binding referendum on October 1 on whether the powerful region in Spain’s northeast should break away from the rest of the country. But the Spanish government says the referendum violates the country’s constitution and vows it won’t take place.
Whatever happens on the day, no one seems set to win without heavy losses. Catalonia is one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions. Its capital is the dynamic, touristic and cultural Mediterranean port city of Barcelona. The region has 7.5 million inhabitants and is one of Spain’s main economic powerhouses, generating a fifth of the country’s 1.1 trillion-euro economy ($1.31 trillion).
It has its own language, which was suppressed during the 1939-1975 dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, and cultural traditions. It is also home to one of the world’s greatest soccer teams, FC Barcelona. The region runs its own police and has considerable powers in health and education. Key areas such as taxes, foreign affairs, defense, ports, airports and trains, however, are in the hands of the Spanish government.
While many Catalans have long stressed the region’s differences from the rest of Spain, the current push for independence began in earnest 2010 when Spain’s Constitutional Court struck down key parts of a groundbreaking charter that would have granted Catalonia greater autonomy and recognized it as a nation within Spain.
The court’s rejection was felt bitterly in the region and has since driven hundreds of thousands of residents out onto the streets every September 11, a Catalan holiday, to demand independence.