Wednesday

17th Jan 2018

Catalan leader postpones independence

  • Carles Puigdemont arriving at the Catalan Parliament. He said there was now "a mandate from the people to make Catalonia an independent state in the form of a republic." (Photo: parlament.cat)

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said that the region "has won the right to be independent", but stopped short of unilaterally declaring secession from Spain in a plea for dialogue.

"The ballot boxes, the only language we understand, say yes to independence. And this is the route I am committed to traveling," he told the Catalan parliament on Tuesday (10 October), in a much awaited speech nine days after the 1 October independence referendum.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Arriving at this historic moment," he said, "I take it upon myself to say ... that the people have determined that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic."

He added, however, that he would ask the Catalan parliament to "suspend" the declaration of independence "so that in the coming weeks we may begin a dialogue without which it is impossible to arrive at an agreed solution."

"We must keep [the referendum's] results in mind during the period of dialogue which we are willing to open," he said, adding that this was "a gesture of responsibility" from his government "to de-escalate tension".

The Catalan leader, together with 61 deputies from his Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) coalition and 10 deputies from the far-left CUP party, later signed a declaration of independence. But no deadline was set for the implementation of the text.

Puigdemont was under pressure from Catalan, Spanish, and European politicians not to unilaterally declare Catalonia's independence on the basis of a referendum that was considered as illegal by Spain and the EU.

"I ask you to respect - in your intentions - the constitutional order and not to announce a decision that would make … dialogue impossible," European Council president Donald Tusk has said in a speech in Brussels moments before Puigdemont's address.

Earlier in the day, the Green leader in the European Parliament, Ska Keller, had called on the Catalan leader to "reconsider" his intention to declare independence.


She said that despite being "a strong supporters of the right to decide for Catalans", she thought it would be a "huge mistake."

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, who had been an ally of Puigdemont over the referendum, had also said on Monday that the vote could not be considered as "an endorsement to proclaim independence".

Since the 1 October referendum, the EU has made clear that an independent Catalonia would not be part of the EU, several companies decided to or were considering moving their headquarters out of Catalonia, and fewer tourists were coming to the region.

'A European affair'

While suspending any declaration of independence, Puigdemont batted the ball into the court of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, as well as of the EU.

"Far from being an internal and domestic affair, Catalonia is a European issue," he said.

He pointed out that eight Nobel prize winners and many other personalities have called for dialogue.

 He added that there was "a prayer for dialogue which runs through Europe."

He called on the Spanish government to "renounce repression" and to "listen, not to us if they don't want to, but to those who advocate for mediation."

He also called on the EU "to get deeply involved" and "hold up the fundamental values of the Union."

Puigdemont's speech, which was due at 6PM, started an hour later because of last-minute talks. The CUP, a far left independist party that supports the ruling coalition, was said to be unhappy about some parts of the speech.

A rumour was that European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker was on the phone with the Catalan leader, but the Commission quickly denied that, saying it was "fake news".

In his speech in Brussels, Tusk said that he has asked Rajoy to look for dialogue, "because the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force."

'Implicit' declaration

Puigdemont's failure to explictely declare independence triggered some criticism fro his CUP ally, which asked for a deadline of "more or less a month" before implementing independence.

On Tuesday evening, the Spanish government rejected what it said was an "implicit declaration of independence".



"Neither Mr. Puigdemont nor anybody else can claim to impose mediation," deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in the evening. "Any dialogue between democrats has to take place within the law,"

Rajoy met the leader of the opposition, Pedro Sanchez from the Socialist Party, to discuss the next steps.

A ministers' meeting was called at 9AM on Wednesday, where Rajoy will decide whether to trigger Article 155 of the constitution, the clause that allows him to suspend Catalonia's autonomy.

Catalan separatists under pressure from business

Catalonia's independence plans have come under more pressure from the financial sector, with banks deciding to move their HQ and ratings agencies downgrading the region's notation.

EU urges Spanish and Catalan leaders to talk

MEPs and the European Commission have called on Mariano Rajoy and Carles Puigdemont to "sit together" and find a way out of the crisis over the push for the region's independence, and ruled out any mediation.

Spanish PM opens small window for talks

Rajoy opened up to a possible reform of Spain's regional system, while threatening to suspend Catalonia's autonomy if the region's leaders confirm Wednesday's declaration of independence.

Bulgaria's corruption problem mars EU presidency start

A dispute between the government and the president over an anti-corruption law has put the spotlight on one of the Bulgaria's main problems - just as it is trying to showcase its economic and social progress.

Magazine

Schulz: 'hero to zero' in 2017 - but back in 2018?

For Martin Schulz, 2017 was the year he was supposed to go from European Parliament president to German chancellor. He failed badly yet now he looks set to return to centre-stage in 2018, possibly as Germany's foreign minister.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  3. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  4. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  5. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  6. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted
  7. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  8. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  10. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  11. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  12. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology

Latest News

  1. Post-Brexit trade roll-over not automatic, EU paper says
  2. Oettinger pushes plastic tax but colleagues express doubts
  3. MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech
  4. Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels
  5. ECB withheld information on 'flawed' bank supervision
  6. Fewer MEPs than visitors turn up for Estonian PM
  7. EU names China and Russia as top hackers
  8. Ten Commandments to overcome the EU's many crises

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  2. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  4. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  6. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  8. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  9. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  10. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  11. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla