Sunday

17th Dec 2017

Police raids escalate Catalonia tension

  • Guardia Civil answer to Spain's interior and defence ministries (Photo: copsadmirer@yahoo.es)

Spanish gendarmes have raided at least four Catalan ministries amid escalating tension ahead of the independence referendum.

The armed units, from the Guardia Civil, a force under the command of the Spanish interior and defence ministries, arrived at about 8AM on Wednesday (20 September) at the semi-autonomous region's economy, foreign affairs, labour, and social affairs ministry buildings in Barcelona, Spanish media said.

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.

  • Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont preparing to challenge Madrid's authority (Photo: president.cat)

Oriol Junqueras, the Catalan vice president, said on Catalunya Radio that they were hunting for electoral posters, funds, and other materials designated for the vote on 1 October.

The gendarmes also detained Junqueras' right hand man, Josep Maria Jove, as well as two officials from the Catalan economy and budget departments, the media reports said.

Jordi Sanchez, the president of the Catalan National Assembly, called for "peaceful resistance" against the operation on Twitter.

The raids followed a Guardia Civil swoop on a postal firm, Unipost, in the Catalan town of Terrassa on Tuesday in which they seized tens of thousands of census cards to be used in the vote.

The Unipost operation saw about 200 protesters rush to the scene, with isolated scuffles and with flowers laid on anti-riot vans.

Tensions are likely to rise again on Wednesday when the first of 740 Catalan mayors, Marc Solsona from the town of Mollerussa, accused of abuse of office by Spanish prosecutors, goes on trial.

For his part, the Spanish foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, accused the pro-independence side of "Nazi" tactics in a TV interview in the US the night before.

He said Franco, Spain's former fascist leader, had organised two referendums in his time.

"Referendums are a weapon of choice of dictators," Dastis, who was in New York for the UN general assembly, said according to the Bloomberg news agency.

He said the pro-independence side was trying to intimidate anti-independence figures.

"These people actually are taking some Nazi attitudes because they are putting up posters with the faces of mayors who are resisting their call to participate in this charade [the referendum]," he said.

"That's something you don't see in a democracy," Dastis said.

The Spanish authorities, on Monday, also seized control of Catalonia's finances in what Junqueras called "total irresponsibility" that would lead the region "to an administrative collapse".

"This means that from now on [Catalan leaders] no longer have their money," a Spanish budget ministry spokeswoman said.

Francisco de la Torre, an MP from Spain's centrist Ciudadanos party, said: "Does this mean they [Catalans] have less autonomy? Of course. But the seriousness of the measure goes hand in hand with the seriousness of events".

The Spanish constitutional court has said the referendum would be illegal.

The European Commission has endorsed this view, but some individual EU states have taken a more nuanced position.

"The will of the people is always what matters, that is the position [of Hungary]," Hungary's government spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, told reporters in Brussels on Monday.

He said the question of legality was "an internal issue for the Spanish and Catalan people," but added that democracy meant "to respect the will of the people".

Russian media and pro-Russian agitators have also backed the secessionist movement, amid concern in Madrid that it was losing international sympathy.

"A Spanish Tiananmen Square within three weeks?", Julian Assange, a pro-Russian media agitator, tweeted on Monday, referring to China's massacre of pro-democracy activists in 1989.

Spain arrests Catalan officials

Armed Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials and seized ballots for an independence referendum, prompting appeals for EU help.

EU 'embarrassed' by Catalan 'taboo'

Faced with the growing tension between the Spanish and Catalan governments, the member states and EU institutions would prefer not to get involved.

Romania searching for EU respectability

Ten years after its accession and a year before holding the EU presidency, the fastest-growing EU economy wants to "engage" more with its partners. But concerns over the rule of law continue to give the country a bad image.

EU glyphosate vote hits German coalition

Chancellor Merkel disowned her agriculture minister over his decision to back a renewal of the weedkiller's licence as the issue pits Social Democrats against Christian Democrats ahead of coalition talks.

Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June

Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives