A NUMBER OF Catalan residents were shifting their bank accounts to branches and lenders in other regions of Spain on Monday, hoping to safeguard their savings should Catalonia declare independence and fall out of the European Union.
In Fraga, a rural town just across the border in neighbouring Aragon, dozens BBVA and Caixa bank clients arrived early in the morning and queued for hours to open accounts.
The Catalan parliament may unilaterally declare independence as soon as Tuesday following the banned referendum last Monday October 1, which a majority of voters boycotted but that Catalan leaders say produced an “overwhelming majority for secession”.
Such a move would not have any immediate legal effect because it would be blocked by Spain’s constitutional court.
But an eventual break from Spain would leave Catalonia outside the European Union and the consumer protections it offers – a source of uncertainty and fear in the minds of some depositors.
Even if an independent Catalonia were to persist in using the euro, as non-EU members Kosovo and Montenegro do, its lenders would cease to be supervised by the European Central Bank.
Catalonia’s biggest banks, Banco Sabadell and Caixabank moved their legal bases to other parts of Spain following the October 1 referendum, ensuring they would remain under ECB supervision even if the region does decide to secede.
Caixabank said last week it was transferring its legal base from Barcelona to Valencia to reassure clients in Catalonia that their deposits were safe.
Sabadell says it has moved its legal base to Alicante.