How Europe will be the next battleground in the Catalan independence question

From "making voters’ voices heard", to "defending Spanish interests": how parties see their role on the independence question in Brussels

General view of the European Parliament (Photo: Michel Christen)
General view of the European Parliament (Photo: Michel Christen) / ACN

ACN | Brussels

May 12, 2019 12:45 PM

"It's an internal affair". This has been one of the official answers most heard in the last year and a half in Brussels when the institutions have been questioned about Catalonia.

However, an EU-Catalonia Dialogue group has also been set up by several MEPs and even a plenary debate was held as a result of police violence on the Catalan independence referendum day.

With the European elections and waiting for a new political course in autumn to be predictably marked by the outcome of the Catalan trial, for the Catalan parties the European Parliament becomes another field of play on the independence process, where some demand that Europe intervene, and others raise it as the guarantor of the Spanish unity and the Constitution.

How Catalan parties view the EU’s role on Catalonia

Exiled former president and topping the list of candidates for Junts per Catalunya, Carles Puigdemont, is "convinced that institutions can not keep silent" on Catalonia. In parallel, the number one of also pro-independence ERC's Oriol Junqueras, sees the elections as "an opportunity to defeat repression with all Europe looking" and implores the EU to be a "part of the solution."

The candidate for left-wing Catalunya en Comú, Ernest Urtasun, believes that Brussels can push for "dialogue" on the topic, but adds that the current situation must be resolved within Spain. In his opinion, the European Commission could have played a "more active" role in fostering dialogue rather than merely saying that it is "an internal affair and does not want to know anything."

"We would like a more proactive committee, but we must explain that the European chamber will not come to solve the problem," warns Urtasun.

In a similar line, the number 5 of the candidature of the PSOE, Javi López, believes that the solution will not come "from the hand" of the continental institutions: "Whoever projects a solution from the EU is deceiving Catalans."

López, MEP of the Catalan Socialists, believes that the resolution must come "first among the Catalans." For Lopez, the EU is "a guarantee of having a space based on the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy" and claims that the European project wants to "blur borders" and "avoid conflicts that have roots in the clash of national identities."

Ciutadans rejects the idea that Brussels has a role in the Catalan question. This is expressed by the number 6 of the party’s list of candidates, Jordi Cañas, who intends to recover the image of Spain that, according to him, "has tried to discredit nationalist parties."

"It is important that Members of the European Parliament defend Spanish interests," Cañas explains.

Despite attempts for an interview by the Catalan News Agency, the People’s Party (PP) did not respond to the request for this report. In any case, the number one on the party list, Dolors Montserrat, has already asked for the vote for the PP to "strengthen the European arrest warrant and extend it to new crimes such as rebellion and sedition, because a fugitive of justice cannot be in Europe, but before the Spanish of justice," with reference to Carles Puigdemont.