A political conflict, which has been erroneously judicialized, can only be resolved by solving the judicial problem created; but at the same time, it must be borne in mind that any political conflict, judicialized or not, must be given a political solution that involves an appropriate, feasible and understandable legal framework. In the case of the conflict between the Spanish state and Catalonia, this need to find the right legal framework is also key, independently of the judicial problem that exists.
If we were to sum it all up, which is not easy because it runs the risk of simplifying something complex until it becomes absurd, an essential part of the conflict is centred in the right of the Catalan people to decide their destiny, in the right to decide what they want to be and how they want to build that future; to this you can give several names, and one of them is the "right to self-determination", a term that generates a great deal of irritation in the Spanish state and, why not say it, in many other states as well.
Speaking of the right to self-determination, doing so from a legal perspective, will lead us to discourses that, faced as we are with an urgent problem, would prevent us from getting past the discussion stage and thus being unable to immerse ourselves in the search for solutions which, in the end, is what lawyers do. Nevertheless we should mention that such a discussion is full of passion.
I have no doubt that there is a great deal of room to reflect on the right to self-determination and the construction of its current meaning, its fit into the system and its practical application; however, in the European sphere, which does not really have a character centred on decolonization or post-colonial processes, this is highly complex. The interpretations or solutions of self-determination that might have been, or might be, devised in the case of a specific indigenous people or colony will be difficult to map onto the framework of the discussion on the conflict between the Spanish state and Catalonia.
However, the fact that it is seen as complex to use the concept of self-determination as the starting point from which to find an efficient, effective, fair and satisfactory solution to this conflict does not imply that in our legal system such a pathway does not exist, but only that it has another name, and in addition, it has a practical and direct application that the right to self-determination does not have, right now.
What I am referring to, when I say that our current law does have the instruments to make such a solution feasible, is the whole breadth of our legal order and that, although some people try to forget it, includes European law, which also applies directly to Spain.
Thus, we have the point that the Treaty of the European Union, in its current version, establishes in its article 2 that: "The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail."
If, up till now, we have talked about the right to self-determination, in order to build a legal framework that will allow us to reach a political solution and resolve the conflict, we must now begin talking about the rights of minorities, which, as I point out, are an element that has been foreseen, even in the Treaty of the European Union, which is a kind of European constitution.
This element, the rights of minorities, is not a mere declaration of principles but rather a guiding focus that must also serve as a norm, helping to interpret all the rest of European law, since the purpose of the Union is none other than to "promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples".
The best response to such violations will come by demanding, from the European institutions, that they comply with the constituent norms of the Union
An explanation for what is going on between the Spanish state and Catalonia can be given, effectively, by understanding that an essential part of the problem lies in the fact that the rights of the Catalan national minority are not being respected in terms of "freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights". Obviously, this failure to respect the rights of minorities not only affects Catalans but also Basques and other minorities that exist within Spain.
Concluding, as some have concluded, that the fact of wanting to make one's own decision and pronouncement on whether or not to be part of a certain state constitutes a crime of rebellion, or of sedition, is a clear example of a prior violation of the rights of a national minority.
Accepting that the Parliament in which a national minority is represented can be suspended and dissolved, for having disagreed with the dominant opinion within the state, is only possible if there has been a prior conclusion that the right of this specific national minority has been understood as nonexistent, or able to be violated.
Believing that people who have received more than two million votes are able to be prevented from acting as parliamentary deputies, senators or MEPs is only possible, if the rights of the national minorities who have voted for them have been subject to a prior violation.
Thinking that one can spy on foreign citizens in Germany, the United Kingdom or Switzerland without this having consequences, for the sole reason that they are acting as representatives there of a specific national minority, is only feasible if it is understood that this minority has no right.
If we analyze the actions of the Spanish state as a whole, in the conflict with Catalonia, we will understand better that, on the one hand, what is not respected is the right of the Catalan minority and, on the other, that in the aforementioned violation, little importance is ascribed to the freedom, democracy, equality, the principles of a state under a rule of law and, also, to the respect for the human rights of the members of this minority, or of any other that questions the indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation.
In any case, the best response to such violations will come by demanding, from the European institutions, that they comply with the constituent norms of the Union, and the very purpose that this Union has: "to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples", among whom are included Catalan people.