Banks Caution Catalonia Against Independence

Banks warn that an independent Catalonia would be cut off from the ECB and the euro.

View down the Gran Vía of Barcelona, Spain, January 21, 2010
View down the Gran Vía of Barcelona, Spain, January 21, 2010 (Almusaiti)

Spanish banks have warned Catalans in recent days not to vote for independence in regional elections on Sunday.

The governor of the country’s central bank argued that an independent Catalonia would be “automatically be excluded from the eurozone because this would also imply an exit from the European Union.”

He added that Catalan banks would no longer be able to access European Central Bank financing if the region breaks away from Spain.

Spain’s banking association voiced similar concerns earlier this month. Two of the country’s largest banks, Caixabank and Banco Sabadell, are headquartered in Catalonia.

Referendum

The region, Spain’s richest, votes this weekend in what pro-independence parties have declared a de facto referendum on secession.

Although Spain insists independence is out of the question, Catalonia’s largest left- and right-wing parties have said they will interpret an election victory as a mandate to draft a new constitution and build up state institutions, including a central bank, diplomatic service and tax authority.

Narrow majority

Recent polls show the left-right Together for Yes alliance, led by regional president Artur Mas, winning around 40 percent support.

The smaller pro-independence party Popular Unity Candidacy would get around 6 percent.

That could give the separatists the 68 seats they need for a majority in parliament, even if they fall short of a 50-percent majority of the votes.

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