European Parliament rejects Catalan referendum debate in next plenary session
EPP and S&D groups veto proposal from Greens to discuss October 1 vote so as not “to legitimize an illegal referendum”
The European Parliament has rejected including the October 1 referendum on the agenda for its next plenary session, to be held next week in Strasbourg. The EPP and S&D groups voted against the initiative presented by the leader of the Greens/EFA, Philippe Lamberts. The European United Left (GUE), which includes left-wing parties, such as Podemos or Syriza, and the European Conservatives and Reformists voted in favor of the Green’s proposal. However, the liberals, the European group that includes the party of the current Catalan government, PDeCAT, abstained.
In fact, the leaders of the Greens/EFA and GUE groups recently sent a letter to the European Commission calling on it to intervene in the Catalan situation. The letter asked the European Commission to mediate and reopen political dialogue between the Catalan and Spanish governments. The letter also criticized Spain’s actions aimed at blocking the October 1 referendum, and accused the Spanish government of violating European fundamental rights.
The Green’s press officer, David Weir, stressed that they are "completely in favor of the debate.” "We believe that trying to solve the problem by legal means will not solve the political situation,” he said. The GUE’s press officer also criticized Spain’s actions to prevent the referendum. “We condemn the way in which Catalan politicians have been treated by the Spanish government," said Nikki Sullings, the GUE’s press officer.
"We believe that trying to solve the problem by legal means will not solve the political situation”
David Weir · Green’s press officer
EPP and S&D justify their decision
EPP, the main group in the European Parliament, voted against the proposal so as not to “legitimize” the referendum. "A new attempt to legitimize an illegal referendum through a public debate in the European Parliament has been blocked,” said Spanish People’s Party spokesman and EPP Vice President Esteban González Pons.
S&D sources stated that they voted against the proposal because they consider that "the European Parliament must not interfere in internal affairs." They also urged the authorities to "seek a solution within the constitutional framework." The leader of the Greens/EFA, Philippe Lamberts, expressed his group’s "concern" over the current political situation in Catalonia and warned that Spain’s "long-term refusal" to "accept" there is a problem is "making the situation worse."
EP President proposes a ‘political solution’
Meanwhile, on arriving at a dinner of EU Heads of State and Government held in Tallinn (Estonia), the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, stated that "a political solution must be found" on the day after the independence referendum. Tajani stressed that "the law must be respected" and pointed out that the referendum is “illegal”, also because of the way it was passed.
Yet, Tajani believes that the situation will not "get out of hand” because the referendum is not “legitimate”. The president of the European Parliament stressed that it is necessary “to work for a political solution” in Catalonia.