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Democracy in Question? Direct Democracy in the European Union

  • Elisenda Casanas Adam, Dimitrios Kagiaros and Stephen Tierney

Abstract

Challenges posed to European integration by exercises of direct democracy at the national or sub-state level – EU response to referendums on internal constitutional matters – Greek, Scottish and Catalan referendum processes – Resilience of state nationalism and the complex pluralisation of identities below the level of the state

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*

Lecturer in Public Law and Human Rights, University of Edinburgh.

**

Teaching Fellow in Public Law and Human Rights, University of Edinburgh.

***

Professor of Constitutional Theory, University of Edinburgh. All authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts. We remain responsible for any errors.

Footnotes

References

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1 Indicatively, Mendez, F., Mendez, M. and Triga, V., Referendums and the European Union: A Comparative Inquiry (Cambridge University Press 2014); Hobolt, S., Europe in Question: Referendums on European Integration (Oxford University Press 2009).

2 The article, therefore, does not examine referendums where the implementation of a European-wide policy was challenged at the domestic level through a referendum.

3 ‘Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a referendum on independence for Scotland (the Edinburgh Agreement)’, Edinburgh, 15 October 2012 available at <www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20170701045319/http://www.gov.scot/About/Government/concordats/Referendum-on-independence>, visited 3 November 2017.

4 While the Greek referendum, and the referendum outcome, challenged EU economic integration, the Greek government ultimately capitulated and accepted the conditions imposed by the creditors in exchange for access to bailout funds.

5 Tierney, S., Constitutional Referendums: The Theory and Practice of Democratic Deliberation (Oxford University Press 2012) p. 11 ; Mendez, Mendez and Triga, supra n. 1.

6 See indicatively Decker, F., ‘Governance beyond the nation-state. Reflections on the democratic deficit of the European Union’, 9 Journal of European Public Policy (2002) p. 256 ; Tsakatika, M., ‘Governance vs. politics: the European Union’s constitutive ‘democratic deficit’, 14 Journal of European Public Policy (2009) p. 867 .

7 Fabbrini, F., ‘Austerity, the European Council, and the Institutional Future of the European Union: A Proposal to Strengthen the Presidency of the European Council’, 22 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies (2015) p. 269 ; Pisani-Ferry, J., The Euro Crisis and Its Aftermath (Oxford University Press 2014); Salomon, M., ‘Of Austerity, Human Rights and International Institutions’, 21 European Law Journal (2015) p. 521 .

8 Mendez, F. and Mendez, M., Referendums on EU Matters (European Parliament, Directorate General for Internal Policies, Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, 2017), available at <www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/571402/IPOL_STU(2017)571402_EN.pdf>, visited 16 March 2018, p. 51.

9 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 164.

10 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 164.

11 V. Triga and V. Manavopoulos, ‘The Greek bailout referendum of 2015’, in Mendez and Mendez, supra n. 8, p. 135.

12 The real reasons Prime Minister Tsipras sought a referendum at that point in the negotiation process are contested and unclear.

13 Triga and Manavopoulos, supra n. 11, p 135.

14 Triga and Manavopoulos, supra n. 11, p. 134.

15 ‘Transcript of President Jean-Claude Juncker’s press conference on Greece’ European Commission Press Release Database, 29 June 2015, <europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-15-5274_en.htm>, visited 3 November 2017.

16 Ibid.

17 Ibid.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 154.

22 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 155.

23 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 155.

24 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 155.

25 Triga and Manavopoulos, supra n. 11, p. 131.

26 Arts. 1 and 2 of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.

27 See Parliament of Catalonia, (2013), ‘Resolució 5/X del Parlament de Catalunya, per la qual s’aprova la Declaració de sobirania i del dret a decider del poble de Catalunya’. The declaration makes specific reference to defending and promoting ‘the founding principles of the European Union particularly the fundamental rights of its citizens, democracy, the commitment to the welfare state, solidarity with the different nations of Europe, and to economic, social and cultural progress’.

28 I. Salvatierra, ‘L’ANC vol una manifestacio massiva l’11-S i adverteix que la pancarta ‘’que compta” es ‘Catalunya, nou Estat d’Europa’ [The ANC wants a massiva march on the 11 th September and warns that the banner ‘that counts’ is ‘Catalonia, new state of Europe] (2012) available at <www.ara.cat/especials/onze_de_setembre-ANC_0_768523223.html>, visited 26 March 2018.

29 Parliament of Catalonia, (2012) ‘Resolució 742/IX del Parlament de Catalunya, sobre l’orientació política general del Govern’.

30 Parliament of Catalonia, (2013), ‘Resolució 5/X del Parlament de Catalunya, per la qual s’aprova la Declaració de sobirania i del dret a decider del poble de Catalunya’.

31 Ara, (2014), ‘Mas demana en una carta als líders europeus suport a la consulta’ [Mas asks for the support of European leaders in letter], <www.ara.cat/politica/Mas-liders-europeus-suport-consulta_0_1058894222.html>, visited 26 March 2018.

32 ‘Puigdemont: ‘Europe cannot look the other way’, Catalan News Agency, 25 January 2017 <www.catalannewsagency.com/politics/item/puigdemont-europe-cannot-look-the-other-way>, visited 26 March 2018.

33 S. Jones and S. Burgen, ‘Catalan leader calls for mediation with Spain over independence’, The Guardian, 2 October 2017, <www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/02/catalan-government-emergency-meeting-spain-independence>, visited 26 March 2018 and C. Camps, ‘Barcelona mayor proposes EU dialogue platform on Catalan conflict’, El Nacional, 5 October 2017, <www.elnacional.cat/en/news/colau-dialogue-platform-eu-catalonia_199119_102.html>, visited 26 March 2018.

34 J. Weiler, ‘Catalonian Independence and the European Union’, European Journal of International Law Blog, 20 December 2012, <www.ejiltalk.org/catalonian-independence-and-the-european-union/>, visited 26 March 2018; C. Alvarez de Toledo, ‘Europe cannot afford to give in to the separatists’, FT.com, <www.ft.com/content/bf93a536-988a-11e3-8503-00144feab7de>, visited 26 March 2018. Contra these positions see N. Walker, ‘Hijacking the Debate’ UK Constitutional Law Blog (18 February 2014), available at <ukconstitutionallaw.org/>).

35 ‘Margallo convoca a los embajadores de los países de la UE acreditados en Madrid en plena ofensiva para frenar el soberanismo’ [Margallo meets the ambassadors from EU countries based in Madrid in full attack to stop the sovereigntist movement] La Vanguardia, 19 September 2013, <www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20130919/54387754857/margallo-convoca-embajadores-ue-madrid.html>, visited 26 March 2018.

36 ‘The Scottish Independence Bill’ s 24, contained in The Scottish Government, ‘The Scottish Independence Bill, A Consultation on an Interim Constitution for Scotland’, 16 June 2014.

37 ‘The Scottish Independence Bill’ s 18.

38 S. Tierney and K. Boyle, ‘An Independent Scotland: The Road to Membership of the European Union’, ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change, Briefing Paper: 20 August 2014, <www.centreonconstitutionalchange.ac.uk/publications/research-briefings/independent-scotland-road-membership-european-union>, visited 26 March 2018.

39 Shaw, J., ‘The European Union and global constitutionalism’, in A. Lang and A. Wiener (eds.), Handbook on Global Constitutionalism (Edward Elgar Publishing 2017); Walker, N., ‘Federalism in 3D: The Reimagination of Political Community in the European Union’, Catolica Law Review (2016) p. 67 ; Keating, M., ‘Europe as a multilevel federation’, 24(4) Journal of European Public Policy (2017) p. 615 .

40 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 156–161.

41 Triga Manavopoulos, supra n. 11, p. 135.

42 L. Elliott et al., ‘Europe’s big guns warn Greek voters that a no vote means euro exit’, The Guardian, 30 June 2015, <www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/29/greek-crisis-referendum-eurozone-vote-germany-france-italy>, visited 26 March 2018.

43 Ibid.

44 Y. Palaiologos, ‘Will Greece’s Government fall?’, Politico.com, 7 March 2015, <www.politico.eu/article/will-greeces-government-fall/>, visited 26 March 2018.

45 Triga and Manavopoulos, supra n. 11, p. 132.

46 Institut d’Estudis Autonomics (2013), ‘Informe sobre els procediments legals traves desl quals es ciutadans I ciutadanes de Catalunya poden ser consultats sobre llur future politic collectiu’, <collectiupraga.cat/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Informe-consultes-IEA-11.03.2013.pdf>, visited 26 March 2018.

47 S. Jones, ‘Catalonia weighs up declaration of independence’ The Guardian, 22 October 2017, <www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/22/spain-calls-on-catalans-to-respect-decision-to-impose-direct-rule>, visited 26 March 2018.

48 Government of Catalonia, (2014) ‘Paths for Catalonia’s integration in the European Union’.

49 Ibid.

50 Gobierno de Espana, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperacion, (2014) ‘Cataluna en Espana. Por la convivencia democratica’.

51 J. Casqueiro, ‘Rajoy sobre Cataluna: ‘’La alternativa a cumplir la ley es nada, por no decir la selva’ [Rajoy on Catalonia: “The alternative to complying with the law is nothing, not to say the jungle]’, El Pais, 26 March 2017, <politica.elpais.com/politica/2017/03/25/actualidad/1490441745_594333.html>, visited 26 March 2018.

52 ‘Agreement between the United Kingdom Government and the Scottish Government on a referendum on independence for Scotland’, 15 October 2012, para. 30.

53 Scottish Independence Referendum (Franchise) Act 2013; Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013.

54 Tierney, S., ‘Legal Issues Surrounding the Referendum on Independence for Scotland’, 9 EuConst (2013) p. 359 .

55 The Scottish Government, ‘Scotland’s Future’, Scotland.gov.uk, 26 November 2013, <www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2013/11/9348>, Part 4 ‘Transition’, p. 338, also p. 51–52, visited 26 March 2018.

56 Scotland’s Future, supra n. 55, p. 20, 51, 338.

57 ‘In the period between a vote for independence on 18 September 2014 and independence day on 24 March 2016 agreements will be reached with the rest of the UK, represented by the Westminster Government, and with the EU and other international partners and organisations’. Scotland’s Future, supra n. 55, p. 338. See also ‘The UK and Scottish Governments, along with the EU institutions and Member States, will have a shared interest in working together to conclude these negotiations to transfer Scotland’s EU membership from membership as part of the UK to membership as an independent Member State.’ Scotland’s Future, supra n. 55, p. 53.

58 A. O’Neill, ‘A Quarrel in a Faraway Country?: Scotland, Independence and the EU’, Eutopia Law Blog, 14 November 2011, <eutopialaw.com/2011/11/14/685/>, visited 26 March 2018.

59 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 161–163.

60 Tierney, supra n. 5, p. 165.

61 Transcript of President Jean-Claude Juncker’s press conference, on Greece, supra n. 15.

62 L. Fores, ‘Barroso respon a Mas que no es el rol de Brussel.les pronunciar-se sobre la legalitat de la consulta’ [Barroso answers Mas that is it no Brussels’ role to take a position on the legality of the consultation], (2014) <www.ara.cat/politica/Mas-Barroso-carta-referendum-consulta-independencia_0_1062493888.html>, visited 26 March 2018.

63 La Vanguardia (2013), ‘Barroso asegura que una Catalunya independiente dejaria de pertenecer a la UE’ [Barroso confirms that an independent Catalonia would no longer belong to the European Union], <www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20131203/54394771025/barroso-asegura-catalunya-independiente-dejaria-ue.html>, visited 3 November 2017.

64 M. Peel, ‘Brussels ducks Catalonia crisis mediation calls’, Financial Times, 11 October 2017, <www.ft.com/content/385c48f8-ae9c-11e7-aab9-abaa44b1e130>, visited 26 March 2018.

65 Gobierno de Espana (2014) supra n. 50. A quote from Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, was also included to highlight that the EU considered the conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish authorities an internal issue and would not intervene.

66 P.R. Suanzes, ‘Aviso de Europa a Cataluna: “Cualquier accion contra la Constitucion es contra el marco legal de la UE” [Warning from Europe to Catalonia: “Any action against the Constituiton is against the legal framework of the EU”], El Mundo, 7 September 2017, <www.elmundo.es/espana/2017/09/07/59b11f71ca474160068b4655.html>, visited 26 March 2018; and El Confidencial, ‘Jucker defiende la unidad de Espana: Respeto al Estado de derecho’ [Juncker defends the unity of Spain: I respect the rule of law], 20 September 2017, <www.elconfidencial.com/espana/cataluna/2017-09-29/juncker-unidad-espana-respeto-estado-derecho_1452223/>, visited 26 March 2018.

67 B. Fassbender, ‘Catalonia and the crumbling façade of the European “citizen’s union”’, University of St. Gallen, 20 October 2017, <www.unisg.ch/en/wissen/newsroom/aktuell/rssnews/hintergrund/2017/oktober/hintergrund-fassbender-katalonien-eu-20oktober2017>, visited 26 March 2018.

68 Walker, supra n. 34.

69 S. Douglas-Scott, “How easily could an independent Scotland join the EU?” University of Oxford Legal Research Paper Series. Paper No XXX/2014, (2014) available at <gallery.mailchimp.com/3d8f589fda4fb7526a70254d4/files/e3c82843-2a9f-41af-a4e3-de3eeec55737.pdf>, visited 26 March 2018; and (2014b). “Why the EU should welcome and Independent Scotland”, Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum Blog. available at <www.scottishconstitutionalfutures.org/OpinionandAnalysis/ViewBlogPost/tabid/1767/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4041/Sionaidh-Douglas-Scott-Why-the-EU-Should-Welcome-an-Independent-Scotland.aspx>, visited 26 March 2018; S. Tierney, ‘Legal Issues Surrounding the Referendum on Independence for Scotland’, 3 EuConst (2013) p. 359; and I. Merrilees, ‘Excluding Scotland from the EU: Definitely Difficult; Probably Impossible’, Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum Blog, (2014), available at <www.scottishconstitutionalfutures.org/OpinionandAnalysis/ViewBlogPost/tabid/1767/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/4234/Ian-Merrilees-Excluding-Scotland-from-the-EU-Definitely-Difficult-Probably-Impossible.aspx>, visited 26 March 2018.

70 ‘EU Spain: Juncker does not want Catalonian independence’, BBC News, 13 October 2017, <www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-41610863>, visited 26 March 2018.

71 ‘Scottish Independence: Barroso says joining EU would be difficult’, BBC News, 16 February 2014, <www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-26215963>, visited 26 March 2018.

72 S. MacNab, ‘Juncker bans any new EU member for 5 years’, The Scotsman, 15 July 2014, <www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/independence-juncker-sympathetic-to-scots-eu-bid-1-3482266>, visited 26 March 2018.

73 Ibid. See also A. Whitaker, ‘Independence: Juncker “sympathetic” to Scotland EU bid’, The Scotsman, 20 July 2014, <www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/row-as-juncker-bars-any-new-eu-members-for-5-years-1-3477066>, visited 26 March 2018.

74 Walker, N., ‘Beyond Secession? Law in the Framing of the National Polity’, in S. Tierney (ed.), Nationalism and Globalisation (Hart Publishing 2015).

* Lecturer in Public Law and Human Rights, University of Edinburgh.

** Teaching Fellow in Public Law and Human Rights, University of Edinburgh.

*** Professor of Constitutional Theory, University of Edinburgh. All authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts. We remain responsible for any errors.

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