The European Commission stays silent on Catalonia despite questioning

Meanwhile, members of the international community stands in support

European Commission spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas (by EBS)
European Commission spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas (by EBS) / Rachel Bathgate

Rachel Bathgate | Barcelona

September 21, 2017 08:31 PM

The Chief spokesperson of the European Commission (EC), Margaritis Schinas, has had to field dozens of questions about Catalonia from correspondents of different international and Catalan media at the regular midday press conference in Brussels. Still, the message was the same all around: the Commission "has nothing to add" with respect to what has already been said by commissioners such as Frans Timmermans or Valdis Dombrovskis, who have already qualified the issue as an "internal affair" within Spain.

This is following a day of continued protests demanding the release of Catalan government officials who were arrested by the Spanish government, an open letter to the international community by Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, and various responses from foreign countries and individuals.

The European Commission refuses to answer

When asked whether those who expect some kind of European mediation by the institution should lose hope, the spokesman avoided answering and merely said that the Commission "has already previously responded" to the question. Various other foreign journalists who reformulated the same question, asking for clarity, also received no answer.

International journalists also questioned Schinas on the subject of the Wednesday morning police operation, some echoing others opinions that "what happened yesterday is strange to happen in a member state of the European Union." Some even pointed out that "Catalans are being deprived of the right to express themselves" and added that "they are also European citizens."

However, Schinas' message always stayed the same: that the EC "respects the law and constitutional order of Spain".

"The European Commission often demands dialogue. Do you really have nothing to say?" a member of the international press asked Juncker’s spokesperson.

"You've always told us that this is a political Commission, but the answer you’re giving us is not political. People have been detained, we’re starting to see a problem of freedom of expression," added an Italian journalist.

"When will the European Commission state its opinion?", asked another foreign reporter.

Still, Schinas did not change his response. "This is a repetitive result, I have covered this question from all angles," said the spokesperson. "What we say is not improvisation, we respect the Spanish constitution as with all the constitutions of Member States," he reiterated.

"And if the Spanish government brings armed forces to the streets of Catalonia?", another European correspondent inquired. To this, Schinas responded: "We have never answered questions about speculations, nor do we imagine things.”