Monday

24th Sep 2018

Catalan region renews call for independence

  • Catalan flags and a few EU flags on the Catalan national day – La Diada - in Barcelona (Photo: Olinta Lopez Rafel)

One and a half million people gathered in Barcelona on Tuesday (11 September) demanding independence from Spain. It was the biggest self-rule rally ever in Catalonia.

Under the slogan "Catalonia, a new state in Europe," people from across the region, from all social classes and of all ages met in central Barcelona swaying Catalan flags and a few EU flags on the Catalan national day - La Diada.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The current economic climate, with deep cuts in public spending and soaring unemployment, has increased the Catalan sentiment for sovereignty, especially over their own economic affairs but also for independence from Spain.

Catalonia is one of Spain's richest regions.

"Yesterday's clamour was very clear and natural: that of a nation that wants to progress and calls for a state to continue to exist," said the president of Catalonia, Artur Mas, in a press conference on Wednesday morning.

He said the most important challenge for Catalonia at the moment is financial sovereignty, but added: "If we do not reach a financial agreement [with Madrid] then the road to Catalan independence is open."

Barcelona is currently negotiating a fiscal pact with Madrid seeking a similar level of financial autonomy as the Basque region in Northern Spain, which would give the Catalan government the right to collect its own taxes.

Mas' comment on independence is a strong warning to Madrid considering that his political coalition of Convergència i Unio – a centre-right and nationalist alliance – traditionally favours Catalonia as a nation within Spain while fighting for financial autonomy.

Catalans have long complained that while the Catalan region is one of the biggest contributors to the Spanish budget, they get much less back in funding for services and public works.

The deficit lies at around at €15 billion, according to the Catalan government. The Catalan president will meet with Spanish leader Mariano Rajoy next week to discuss the issue.

The fight with the Spanish government over financial autonomy will be a tough one though.

Last month, Catalonia asked for a €5 billion loan from Spain's rescue fund for financially troubled regions and Rajoy's government has implied that such a loan will come only with increased central control.

The European Commission has refused to comment on the increased call for independence from a European region.

It said such questions are an internal matter for each member state and that "the commission is not able to speculate on any potential consequences this may have on EU law."

Catalans stage symbolic independence vote

Inhabitants of the Spanish region of Catalonia turned out to vote in a symbolic referendum on independence on Sunday, a headache for Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero two weeks before his country takes over the EU's rotating presidency.

Spain in wait-and-see mode as recession worsens

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Tuesday said his government has not yet taken a decision on asking for European help in refinancing its debt, pending a key meeting of the European Central Bank next week.

Magazine

Regions feel the pinch

Looking to save a buck in every corner of the budget, EU countries are now pointing their arrows at subnational governments, a new study has found. Subsidies are down, as is the number of municipalities.

All eyes on Catalan election

Catalans will cast their vote for a new regional assembly on Sunday in an election that could have considerable consequences for Catalonia and the rest of Spain.

News in Brief

  1. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group
  2. Half of EU states at risk of missing recycling target
  3. Commission refers Poland to EU top court over rule of law
  4. Open Society Foundation takes Hungary to court
  5. EU court asked to rule on halting Brexit
  6. EU threatens Switzerland on stock trading
  7. Italy's new basic wage restricted to Italians
  8. UK tycoon offers to create pro-Brexit party

Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president

Europe must have a robust foreign policy and nurture high-tech industries, Slovak EU commissioner Maros Sefcovic has said in his bid to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as the next EU commission president.

'Every group split' ahead of EU copyright vote

Political groups in the European Parliament are split about how to vote for a directive that would reform the EU's copyright regime - amid warnings that freedom of expression and creators' rights are at risk.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  2. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  3. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  4. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  5. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  6. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  7. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  8. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us