Can Spain be suspended from the EU?


Catalonia held a referendum for independence. The police threatened and attacked the citizens of Spain/Catalonia.

Article 7 says that if a country violates the rights of their citizens they could be suspended. I wonder why this hasn't happened yet, does attacking citizens fall under violating rights and why isn't the EU doing anything?


Posted 2017-10-05T20:44:53.517

Reputation: 163

Spain applied to the EU in 1962 and was basically rejected (on political grounds) being offered only a trade agreement. Only their 1977 application was successful (in 1986). Also Greece's association agreement was suspended in 1967 following a coup. Your question would have been better had it asked about precedents rather than speculation on a current situation... – Fizz – 2018-07-12T22:56:46.043

On a side-note, this does not answer your question at all, because it's a completely different case, but Turkey was supposed to accede to the EU in 2013, but Germany blocked those accession talks as a result of a violent crackdown Turkey was responsible for in Taksim Square. – Stephan Branczyk – 2017-10-05T21:29:06.177

Attacking citizens may or may not violate their rights depending on the circumstances. – phoog – 2017-10-05T22:22:39.123



How many EU countries called for Germany to be suspended from the EU after the G20 riots in Hamburg in July of 2017 which saw 17 people hospitalised? None. So why would they now call for Spain to be suspended after a smaller disturbance?

Every country which has a police force recognises that it may sometimes need to use force proportionately to maintain law and order. After an isolated incident in which force seems to have been used disproportionately by another country they may issue a diplomatic reminder of the need for proportionality, and some politicians have. E.g. Guy Verhofstadt, in an even-handed rebuke to both sides, considered that there was "disproportionate violence" on the part of the police.

But Article 7 clause 2 says that (my emphasis)

The European Council, acting by unanimity on a proposal by one third of the Member States or by the European Commission and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament, may determine the existence of a serious and persistent breach by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2 after inviting the Member State in question to submit its observations.

One event does not constitute a serious and persistent breach of the EU's values.

Peter Taylor

Posted 2017-10-05T20:44:53.517

Reputation: 3 482

2But it's not really a singular event, I think? It's part of a bigger conflict about Catelonia's political status (not saying Spain should be suspended, just that it's not a singular event similar to the G20 protests). – None – 2017-10-05T21:59:57.680

6@Carpetsmoker Catalonia is not recognized as an occupied region by any international authorities and therefore legally speaking they cannot demand the right to secession. They can of course resolve to extra-legal methods, but then Spain may use power to subdue them without violating any international conventions. A similar situation would arise if a singular landowner decided to stop paying taxes and proclaim himself independent. – JonathanReez – 2017-10-05T22:22:39.033

@Carpetsmoker but the threshold for invoking this clause is high indeed. Thatis another interesting aspect of this answer. – phoog – 2017-10-05T22:25:05.583

@JonathanReez perhaps other rights are being violated. A purported right to secession is not the only right in play here. – phoog – 2017-10-05T22:26:21.917

2@phoog currently neither the UN nor the EU nor any other respected authority recognize these apparent rights. I don't see how Spain could suffer any consequences from their behavior. – JonathanReez – 2017-10-05T22:35:19.977


@Carpetsmoker, I interpreted the question as asking specifically whether the police use of force on 2017-10-01 constituted grounds for invoking Article 7. If it is more broadly about whether political rights are being violated by the Spanish government in its response to the procés then it may be a duplicate of

– Peter Taylor – 2017-10-05T22:49:00.500

3@JonathanReez what rights? I only suggest that there may be some rights being violated that haven't yet been named. Article 7 could be invoked for (serious and persistent breach) of any value mentioned in Article 2, namely "respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities." It's pretty vague. The high bar for enforcement is very unlikely to be met in practice with respect to Spain and Catalonia, but it's constitutionally possible. – phoog – 2017-10-06T04:52:56.210