by Liam Kelly
After declaring independence from Spain, Catalonia has now set its sights on developing a financial structure that would run parallel to the country.
Following a referendum wrought with conflict and allegations that claimed the vote illegal, Catalonia declared its independence from Spain on October 27. Catalan citizens flooded the streets in celebration after only a week earlier they had protested against the violence on the day of the vote. As reported by The Guardian, Eladi Jaume from Barcelona as well as many others, wept with joy.
Shortly after the first glasses of Cava had been drunk in celebration, the Spanish government dissolved the Catalan parliament, took control of the region and announced new elections on December 21. Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, also fired the regional president, Carles Puigdemont, and removed the head of the regional police force.
Rajoy concluded that he has, “decided to call free, clean and legal elections as soon as possible to restore…the self-government that has been eliminated by the decisions of the Catalan government.” It has also been reported that Puigdemont could be placed in jail within the next two months.
All of these actions are considered legal under article 155 of the 1978 Spanish constitution. This article states that,
“If a Self-governing Community does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the Constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the Government, after having lodged a complaint with the President of the Self-governing Community and failed to receive satisfaction therefore, may, following approval granted by the overall majority of the Senate, take all measures necessary to compel the Community to meet said obligations, or to protect the above-mentioned general interest.”
On October 29, the silent majority of pro-Spain supporters marched on the same streets in response. The march was fronted by Inés Arrimadas of the Citizens Party and served to show a Catalan in favor of “co-existence”. Arrimadas said that, “Catalans are once again taking to the street to show that the majority of Catalans feel Catalan, Spanish and European.”
Despite the ensuing chaos and uncertainty of Puigdemont’s political status, the Catalan government is still interested in creating a financial system separate from Spain. Through the initiatives of SmartCatalonia, representatives are looking to Estonia in creating their own e-residency.
Move to eastern Europe quickly.
But it’s the e-residency program that has attracted recent global attention. In short, it allows anyone in the world, following a series of applications, to start a digital business in Estonia. It is location-independent and falls under all EU guidelines for managing a business, even if the owner lives outside of the EU. This includes digitally filing for taxes, securing documents, and earning an Estonian digital identity.
This is relevant because the director of SmartCatalonia, Dani Marco, has been making frequent visits to Estonia. In attempts to give the region of 1.6 million more political leverage, they are seeking a backdoor into the EU market place. After Estonia, “started from scratch, with all the possibilities they were offered”, Marco and his team think they have found the answer.
But this answer has already been projected to be complete within two years. According to Spanish press, El Pais, the Catalan Government has been working closely with the Estonian government in order to integrate digital systems and Catalonia’s registry. In 2016, a document entitled The Basis for Digital Administration of the Nation reported that the registry would include, “the identification and characterization of the people of Catalonia, the organizations that conform and [their] properties”.
Future of the Region
The validity of Catalonia creating it’s own cryptocurrency is uncertain, but the infrastructure is being developed to create an open and digital administration. The end goal would resemble something very similar to Estonia, but the pressure for independence may create more radical amendments.