There had been rising expectations that Madrid could invoke Article 155 of Spain's constitution (a so-called "nuclear option") that would allow it to sack the regional government and call a new election — and the possibility remains that Spain could seek to do this. But experts believe that Spain should now grant Catalonia more autonomy, not less.
The wealthy northeast region of the country already has a large degree of self-government, controlling matters of culture and regional commerce, health and justice. It also has its own police force, the Mossos d'Esquadra.
Yet it does not have complete control over taxation (the redistribution of a large chunk of its tax revenues to the rest of Spain is a bone of contention) and central government maintains powers over foreign and economic policy, as well as immigration and defense.
Daniel Lacalle, chief economist and investment officer at Tressis Gestion, told CNBC that Catalonia needs more autonomy now.
"Companies, economic agents and people that want Catalonia to do better know that secession is a very negative economic event both for Spain and for Catalonia, so what I want is for them to have more autonomy, not less autonomy," he said, adding that the independence movement was not about freedom.
"Everyone talks about this secession as if it's about freedom, but they (Catalan separatists) want to be in the European Union, they want to be within the same structures that Brussels is imposing," he said.
"The point here is that taxation and administration has to be closer to the voter, closer to the citizens and that's why we have an autonomous region system in Spain that is unequalled in terms of the level of autonomy and the level of power that regional governments have, but that can be improved and that's where we need to get to."