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Former European Parliament head calls for ‘political dialogue’ to resolve Catalan conflict

Pat Cox urges Spain "not to create martyrs to a cause" but to allow discussions to find a “mutually acceptable” solution


14 April 2018 12:12 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox has called for “political dialogue” between Catalonia and Spain to find a “mutually acceptable” solution to the conflict. In an interview with the Catalan news agency, Cox said that Spain “had chosen” to follow “the constitutional and judicial route” to deal with the Catalan situation, and while he thinks it is “a perfectly valid option,” he warned that “the resolution of issues of this complexity ultimately can require political conversation.”

Asked if the Catalan officials in prison should be released, Cox said he did not want to go into “Spain’s most delicate constitutional issue” but that the experience “of other places and other times” shows that “if you want to have political dialogue you need to find the mechanisms to allow those who can contribute to the dialogue to do so.” Cox went on to stress it was important “not to create martyrs to a cause, but to find people who can bring solutions.”

Cox, who was President of the European Parliament between 2002 and 2004, compared evaluating the Catalan situation with “entering a minefield”, and he justified the European Union’s reluctance to get involved in the debate because “legally and politically the EU cannot supersede the constitutional order of a member state.” Cox also said that the EU cannot “allow itself the luxury” of mediating between Catalonia and Spain. “If the parties to this dispute do not will [mediation] to happen then it cannot be imposed from the outside,” he said.

Referring to Scotland’s independence process, Cox pointed out that London and Edinburgh maintained a “constitutional dialogue” to agree on the 2014 referendum, an element that he pointed out is "absent" in Spain. Cox also warned that “legality should not be confused necessarily with the more complex shades of gray that constitute political reasoning.” Using the example of Northern Ireland, Cox said peace was eventually achieved “because people who didn’t like each other sat down at the table and talked.”


  • Former EU President Pat Cox during the interview with Catalan News (by ACN)

  • Former EU President Pat Cox during the interview with Catalan News (by ACN)