MEPs ask for “dialogue” rather than “legal procedures” to deal with Catalonia’s push for independence
MEPs from different groups and ideological sensibilities have reacted to President Mas’ summons for the 9-N symbolic vote on independence. Conservative MEP Ian Duncan, who was invited as an international observer to the 9-N consultation, considered “illogical and irrational” the Spanish government’s attitude regarding Catalonia’s push for independence and defined the 9-N as “an attempt to be democratic”. Duncan stated that Catalonia’s push for independence “is troubling any democrat” and added that the future of a nation “can’t be settled in a courtroom”. Lithuanian Liberal MEP Petras Austrevicious appealed for an “effective dialogue” between Barcelona and Madrid and the European Democrats’ Vice-President, Belgian Kathleen van Brempt, pointed to “political solutions” rather than “legal procedures” to solve the situation in Catalonia.
Brussels (CNA).- Social Democrat, Conservative and Reformist, Liberal, Green and Eurosceptic Members of the European Parliament have lamented President Mas’ summons announced this week and urged “European solutions” to the situation. Conservative MEP Ian Duncan, who was invited as an international observer to the 9-N symbolic consultation, considered “illogical and irrational” the Spanish government’s attitude regarding Catalonia’s push for independence and defined the 9-N as “an attempt to be democratic”. “What is going on in Catalonia and Spain is troubling any democrat” stated Duncan and added that the future of a nation “can’t be settled in a courtroom”. The European Democrats’ Vice-President, Belgian Kathleen van Brempt, pointed to “political solutions” to solve the situation in Catalonia rather than entrenching on “legal procedures” and Lithuanian Liberal MEP Petras Austrevicious appealed for an “effective dialogue” between Barcelona and Madrid.
“What is going on right now in Catalonia and Spain is troubling to any democrat” admitted Conservative MEP Ian Duncan, who voted ‘no’ in the Scottish referendum, held in September 2014. “The future of a nation can’t be settled in a courtroom, which is simply the wrong way to do it” he said.
“What kind of democracy is that?”
Duncan was invited by the Catalan government to be an observer to the 9-N consultation and described it as “an attempt to be democratic against great pressures, great challenges and great barriers”. “There was no civil disobedience; there were people trying to conduct a poll in the most challenging circumstances” he assured. “It’s time to remove those challenges and those barriers; it’s time for a proper poll” stated Duncan and added that “it needs to be a real referendum, a binding referendum agreed between Barcelona and Madrid”. He remarked that the situation “can’t be solved in a courtroom on the 15th of October with the risk that President Mas could end up in prison or barred from seeking elections for 10 years.” “What kind of democracy is that?” he concluded.
The Scottish conservative MEP also lamented the Spanish government’s attitude. “Honestly, I can’t think of anything more likely to boost the support for independence than the behaviour of the Spanish government. It strikes me as illogical and irrational” he admitted and forecast that if dialogue doesn’t come into play the situation will end in “confusion and unhappiness”.
Mas’ summons is regarded as “nonsense”
The nationalists’ parties in the European Parliament also reacted with incredulity to President Mas’ summons. N-VA Flemish MEP Mark Demesmaeker was also an observer to the 9-N symbolic vote and to the recent 27-S Catalan elections. “People need dialogue and democracy, not summonses and intimidation” he stated. “The legal system in Spain is used as an instrument against democracy”, he lamented on Twitter.
Scottish MEP Ian Hudghton, from Green-EFA, remarked that it was “very surprising that an elected President can be taken to court for organising a democratic vote”. According to Hudghton, the 9-N aimed to “give an opportunity for the Catalan people to express their views” and he said he found it “surprising that this is something which can result in a court case”.
Hudghton named the Scottish case and the UK government’s attitude regarding the referendum as an example and admitted being “surprised” that this example “couldn’t be followed in circumstances like those in Catalonia”. According to Hudghton, taking the results of the 27-S elections into account, “the best thing to do would be to respect the will of people who had voted for independence parties, as happened in Scotland”. Hudghton also recommended to “take it as a mandate to have a proper referendum”.
The Catalan MEPs Josep Maria Terricabras, Ernest Maragall, Ramon Tremosa, Francesc Gambús and Ernest Urtasun urged “European solutions” to Mas’ summons and requested a meeting with Vice-President of the European Commission and the European Commissioner for the portfolio of Better Regulation, Inter-Institutional Relations, Rule of Law and Charter of Fundamental Rights, Frans Timmermans. In a joint letter, the MEPs from left-wing pro-independence ERC-NeCat, liberal CDC, Chrisitian Democrat UDC and Eco-Socialist ICV stated they are “deeply worried” about considering the 9-N symbolic vote “a cause for being summonsed and even imprisoned”.
European Solutions “if necessary”
The European Democrats’ Vice-President, Belgian Kathleen van Brempt, emphasised the need for “dialogue” and to “find political solutions” rather than entrenching on “legal procedures which can get in the way”. “I’m not worried, even from a European perspective we will find solutions, if necessary” she stated. “It is not for politicians to intervene in legal procedures; but it is up to politicians to find solutions” she highlighted.
“I’m from Flanders, so I understand a little bit about what is happening in Catalonia” stated van Brempt. She advised the Catalans to “find solutions” as it is not “in the citizens’ interest to go into a lengthy institutional discussion”. “What people are really concerned about is their jobs, their future, the climate change” she assured and forecast that if the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) were to win the Spanish elections, the situation may be redressed.
Right to self-determination
Lithuanian Liberal MEP Petras Austrevicious warned that “threats and legal means to push politicians into the corner would create absolute opposite results” and called for “common sense to prevail”. According to Austrevicious, the Baltic countries were in a “similar situation” in the early 90’s. “We couldn’t talk to Moscow and Moscow didn’t want to understand our wish for independence” he recalled. “I wish that Catalonia and Spain start an effective dialogue. I believe it will be a constitutional solution” stated Austrevicious.
From the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, MEP Jonathan Arnott assured that Catalonia’s push for independence “has to be solved by a poll”. “As a great defender of democracy all over the world, I support the Catalan’s right to self-determination and their right to decide if they want to continue being part of Spain” he declared to CNA. According to the UKIP MEP, the Scottish referendum is an example of a “much better way” to solve issues related to sovereignty “rather than using legal procedures against a democratically elected leader” he concluded.