One of the biggest moments in EU history is happening right now. And it will shake Europe to its core. [VIDEO]

Catalonia: independence declared
Tom Coburg

The government of Catalonia has now declared independence from Spain, in a move that’s likely to shake Europe to its core.

The vote for independence was by a huge majority of 70 for to 10 against; although the opposition boycotted the vote. Immediately after the announcement, the Catalan parliament was surrounded by thousands of people, celebrating.

Article 155

Madrid, however, has now ratified Article 155 of the Spanish constitution so that direct rule can be imposed upon Catalonia. Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, said this was necessary to return “law, democracy and stability” to the region. The Spanish Constitutional Court, meanwhile, is unlikely to consider Catalonia’s declaration of independence to be legal. And the country’s top prosecutor is reportedly already looking to charge the people responsible for the independence vote for ‘rebellion’.

With the approval by the Spanish senate of Article 155, the government of Catalonia can be stripped of its powers, with its functions assumed by the Spanish government. In accordance with the measures presented by the Spanish government, the Catalan chamber will not be able to propose a new president or hold an investiture debate to elect one.

But some law experts have argued that Madrid’s measures against the Catalans may be problematic.

According to professor of constitutional law and former lawyer of the Constitutional Court [Spanish] Joaquín Urías, Article 155 should only be implemented temporarily and not used by the Spanish government with the aim of substituting the Catalan government and calling new elections.

And in 2011, Spain’s Constitutional Court ruled [Spanish] that referenda cannot be considered illegal and their promoters are not to face charges.

Meanwhile, Catalonia’s government has identified twelve examples of where the Spanish government has allegedly misused the legal system in relation to the crisis.

Media takeover?

As a direct result of Article 155, Spanish authorities will also oversee the running of Catalonia’s public television and radio stations:

TV3, Catalunya Ràdio, and the Agència Catalana de Notícies earlier announced their common position in response to the measures.

An avoidable crisis?

Here is a timeline [pdf] of events that led to the current impasse.

All of this could perhaps have been avoided had Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy agreed to dialogue, or to guarantee no interference if the Catalan government opted for elections.

The coming days and weeks will prove to be very turbulent. For Catalonia, Spain, and the EU alike.

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