Aphonia /eɪˈfəʊnɪə/ noun: medicine

The inability to speak through disease of or damage to the larynx or mouth.

Catalonia's campaign in favour of the referendum and self-determination . The Catalan lobby has not worked in Brussels. The creation of a network of delegations to sell and defend the  separatist process abroad, the unfruitful meetings with the European Institutions and the non-official event in the European Parliament organised by three Catalan euro-deputies are examples of their failure.

How has the EU communicated in the face of the Catalan challenge?

The European Institutions have opted for “no comment”, treating the Catalan subject as constitutional Spanish issue: in other words, an internal matter for Spain. The official posture kept by Brussels and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has been to say that if a part of a member proclaims independence, it automatically turns into a third State and leaves the European Union. This is known as the “Prodi doctrine”.

The Catalan government has been called upon to respect the rule of law, the basic principles of the EU and its Letter of Fundamental Rights, all of which do not contemplate the disintegration of its Member States by means of illegal queries. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, also called on Catalonia “to respect the constitutional order and not to announce a decision - alluding to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence - that would make dialogue impossible”.

On 7 September, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, issued the most resolute statement so far by the community, linking the call for the Catalan referendum with European law: "The Constitution of each member state is also that of the EU’s constitution and the European Commission also has a responsibility to defend it. Any action against the Constitution of a member state is an action against the legal framework of the European Union". This answer does represent a political position and not just a legal one.

On 13 October, Juncker defended the unity of the European Union: "If we let Catalonia become independent, so will others." This message is also positioned beyond the right.

But why does Catalonia continue to maintain its defiant position?

In the face of the Catalan challenge, the European democratic narrative has been very timid. On 15 October Catalonia continues to hold publicly that it will remain in the European Union and proposes to create a central bank. It is necessary to dismantle these lies from the institutions and go further by positioning ourselves against the degree of unrealism in Catalonia and the collateral effects that in other European countries may have on this issue, as mentioned by the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Maurice Obstfeld.

In September, Juncker said "this has nothing to do with freedom of expression and conscience. In the EU, everyone is free to say what they want as long as they do not get out of the way of the basic laws and values of democracy. That is the conflict". However the communicative battle has not focused here. In the story of "democracy" and rebellion told by the Catalan government, the European Union has not yet been able to respond with a story of unity, truth and mutual benefits. We must find in  an opportunity to communicate the European project and reinforce it.

What’s next?

In Catalonia, the law has been broken, a crime has been committed and a coup d'etat has been disguised by a 'right to decide'. Lies are spread and European warnings are disobeyed. I hope that the force of reason, common sense and common interest, and the search for true consensus, will be imposed in Catalonia. A solution has to be found for 46 million citizens, one which avoids conflict and encourages dialogue.

Between this, we must work on a European project that goes beyond the common market, a European Union that advances its integration. For this, the generation of trust and authentic communication that reaches not only the institutions but also the citizens will be key to the future.

Do you have comments or questions? Reach out at @sicneuf

Fuencisla Cid is Director of Communications and manager of the communication function of EOSA. She manages communication programs for the public sector and is also specialised in communication of European projects of different funds and in consulting to companies. She joined the EACD in 2016.