Madrid vows to block Catalonia referendum
13.12.13 @ 09:27
Berlin - The Spanish government on Thursday (12 December) vowed to block Catalonia from holding an independence referendum, with EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy renewing the warning that the region would no longer be part of the EU if it split off.
"The poll will not be held," justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon told journalists, the BBC reports.
Minutes earlier, Catalonian president and pro-independence campaigner Artur Mas said parties in his region had agreed to hold the poll on 9 November 2014.
The questions asked would be "Do you want Catalonia to become a state?" and, in case of an affirmative response, "Do you want this State to be independent? Yes or No."
Mas urged the Spanish government to "be ready for this call from a people that wants to vote freely and absolutely peacefully and democratically."
The government in Madrid has the last say on organising legally-binding referendums. A non-binding "popular consultation" may still take place, however.
Speaking in Madrid on Thursday, EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy repeated the warning that an independent Catalonia would no longer be part of the EU.
"If a part of the territory of a member state ceases to be a part of that state because that territory becomes a new independent state, the treaties will no longer apply to that territory," Van Rompuy said.
"I am confident that Spain will remain a united and reliable member state of the European Union," he added.
Catalonia is Spain's economic powerhouse, with a population of 7.5 million. It already has a high degree of autonomy. A human chain in support of Catalan independence was organised all across the region.
Recent polls show that the population in Catalonia is evenly split on the matter.