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22nd Jul 2018

EU Commission calls for dialogue in Catalan crisis

  • A Guardia Civil officer with Catalan pro-independence protesters during a protest ahead of the referendum. (Photo: Jordi Boixareu/ZUMA Wire/dpa)

The European Commission said Monday (2 October) that Sunday's referendum in Catalonia was illegal and called on parties to begin dialogue following a violent crackdown on the vote by the Spanish authorities.

Over 800 people were injured on Sunday, according to Catalan authorities, as Spanish national police raided polling stations where votes were being cast. The independence referendum has been ruled unconstitutional by the Spanish constitutional court.

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"We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics," the EU commission's spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, said.

"These are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation," he added.

However, the European Commission sees no role for itself as a mediator between Spanish and Catalan authorities after Sunday's violence, and failed to clearly condemn the police brutality.

"This is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain," Schinas said.

He added that the EU executive continues to "trust the leadership of prime minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein."

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is to hold a phone conversation with Rajoy later on Monday.

A debate on the situation could be held in the European Parliament this week.

The EU commission also restated that if Catalonia were to secede legally - in agreement with Madrid - it would end up outside the EU and would have to apply separately to join the bloc.

Preliminary results, according to Catalan authorities, showed that about 90 percent of the total votes cast were in favour of a split from Spain.

Less than 43 percent of the region's 5.3 million eligible voters took part in the disputed referendum.

EU stays mute on Catalonia

EU leaders and institutions largely remain silent, despite calls to condemn the brutal police crackdown at polling stations in Catalonia during its disputed independence vote.

Catalonia's separatists claim victory after violent day

"The citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state," the region's leader, Carles Puigdemont, said at the end of a day marked by Spanish police violence inside and outside polling stations.

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.

Spain and Catalonia in referendum showdown

Barcelona vowed to hold a vote and Madrid vowed to prevent one on the eve of Sunday's planned independence referendum. The deadlock has prompted criticism of Rajoy.

Opinion

Black day for democracy in Spain

A state that uses violence on its own citizens who are in the process of enacting their democratic rights raises the urgent and difficult question of whether it still may call itself democratic.

EU Commission's credibility eroding, says Catalonia

A former commission official who now represents the Catalan government says some European commissioners do not agree with the EU commission's official statement on Catalonia's bid for independence from Spain.

Analysis

Will Austria's presidency give EU a populist push?

As Sebastian Kurz's government takes over the helm of EU-policy making for the next six months, Austrian MEPs from opposing sides weigh in on the EU's youngest prime minister's possible influence on the continent's future.

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