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The EU has indicated they would have no problem with Catonia (or Scotland) becoming part of the EU in their own right provided they had achieved independence by legal means. The EU cannot be seen to be furthering the disintegration of their own members. It must respect their domestic political arrangements.
That is not to say that member states don't have Treaty obligations, enforcible through ECJ rulings, to observe democratic norms and recent infringements of those norms in Poland and Hungary deserve a more robust EU response.
But we are in unproven territory here, as those democratic norms are poorly defined and as yet untested by any enforcement proceedings. The EU expanded it's membership to include former dictatorships like Spain, Portugal and Greece and former members of the Warsaw Pact partly as a means to reinforce the development of democratic norms and institutions in those countries.
It is an open question the degree to which the EU could and would respond if any member state reverted to fascism or communism. However refusing to grant independence to a regional entity hardly qualifies for such intervention. The EU Commission/ECJ could intercede if invited by both parties to do so, or intervene if there were gross violations of human rights by Spanish authorities in Catalonia, but the mechanisms for doing so - other than ECJ findings in individual cases - are unclear to me.
Perhaps those with greater knowledge of EU Treaties could comment on this.
The question is also particularly relevant to N. Ireland. Under the Good Friday agreement all citizens there are entitled to either or both British or Irish (and therefore European) citizenship. What happens if the UK violates their European Citizenship rights post Brexit?
It is important to note, in this context, that they have the right to fully express and exercise their rights as Irish (and EU) Citizens within Northern Ireland, and not simply as ex-pats livings in a foreign state who could be expecting to adapt to local (UK) norms. They are by definition not expats but residents fully entitled to vindicate their EU citizenship rights within N. Ireland. Could they appeal to the ECJ if unhappy with a local court ruling? Could the Irish Government act on their behalf?
Index of Frank's Diaries
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