The Brief: What happens when the Commission ‘fully respects’ a referendum outcome

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

European Commission boss Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that if Catalonians vote “yes” in an independence referendum, he will respect it.

Looking back, we can’t help noticing that the Commission presidents have always respected the results. Here is just a small sample of some EU-related referendums that were in the spotlight across Europe.

1 June 2005: Referendums in France and the Netherlands

José Manuel Barroso: “The people of the Netherlands, like the voters of France, have chosen to say no to the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty. This is a choice that we respect.”

13 June 2008- Irish referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

José Manuel Barroso: “As a supporter of the Treaty, the European Commission would have hoped for another result. However, we respect the outcome of the referendum.”

5 July 2015- Greek referendum

Jean-Claude Juncker: “The European Commission takes note of and respects the result of the referendum in Greece.”

14 September 2017- Statement on the Catalonian referendum

Jean-Claude Juncker: “If there were to be a ‘yes’ in favour of Catalan independence – which remains to be seen – then we will respect that choice”

All these “NO” eventually became “YES”. Treaties changed names. Symbols of the Union were removed…what will be different this time?

The Roundup

Juncker dives into uncharted waters by saying he’ll respect the outcome of the Catalan referendum, which Spain refuses to recognise.

France wants to go deep before going wide: no eurozone enlargement before further integration, in response to Juncker’s speech.

Gossip from Tallin: Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem will stay on until the end of January, denying earlier rumours that he will step down early due to electoral crash.

How do you turn a pointy pyramid into an equilateral square? By taxing the top 10% – a move that would redistribute one trillion dollars, the UN says, calling for a radical “21st-century makeover” of the global economy.

Hijacking aid: EU goes ahead with militarisation of peace and security instruments, at the expense of recipients of much-needed development assistance.

China may be buying up the world’s infrastructure but true wealth lays in networks and tech, and those sectors call the US home. American sociologist Salvatore Babones warns the EU about where its future lies.

Greece is being cheeky: environmentalists accuse the government of circumventing the law by granting permits to the state-owned coal industry and forbidding any legal challenge.

Energy efficiency may not be sexy – but is actually five times cheaper than buying energy, writes Jan Rosenow of the Regulatory Assistance Project.

Conscientious objection to abortion is a “legal grey area” across the EU, which is wary of touching religious freedom. Will this new case be a turning point?

The role of EU’s special envoy on religious freedom needs strengthening if it is to be more than a symbolic post, according to Sophia Kuby of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Read our interview.

Look out for…

The Informal meeting of economic and financial affairs ministers (ECOFIN) in Tallin today and tomorrow, discussing how to tax the digital economy and how to deepen the eurozone.

Views are the author’s

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