Saturday

19th Oct 2019

Catalonia celebrates national day ahead of trial verdicts

  • Catalonia's national day in 2017 was fundamental to legitimising the subsequent independence referendum by the Catalan government (Photo: Roser Vilallonga/Assemblea.cat)

Present and former members of the Catalan government called on citizens on Wednesday (11 September) to participate in the mass demonstrations in Barcelona for Catalonia's national day.

A spokesperson for Catalan government, Meritxell Budó, encouraged citizens to march across the capital "to recover the national rights and freedoms of Catalonia".

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

  • This year the ‘Diada' takes place ahead of the verdict of the Spanish Supreme Court on 12 Catalan separatist leaders on trial for rebellion and other crimes (Photo: Paco Freire/SOPA via ZUMA Wire/dpa)

Catalonia celebrates every year its national day, also known as the "Diada", which commemorates Barcelona's last defence, following 14 months of siege, on 11 September 1714 during the War of Spanish Succession.

However, the day has become politically symbolic for the independence cause in Catalonia and especially this year, since the Diada takes place while awaiting the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court on some 12 separatist leaders, who are former politicians of Carles Puigdemont's short-lived independence government.

"On the eve of these verdicts, it is important that we are seen as strong and massively mobilised," said Elisenda Paluzie, the president of the pro-independence group Assemble Nacional Catalana, which organised the demonstrations, to AFP.

The mass mobilisations that took place in the Diada of 2017 were a key to legitimising the referendum on independence by the Catalan government - although it was declared illegal by the Spanish Constitutional Court.

The current president of the Catalan government, Quim Torra, insisted on Tuesday on the "right to decide" of the Catalans as the only form to find an answer to the ongoing political stalemate between Madrid and Barcelona.

"There is only one way to solve this dilemma which is exercising the right of self-determination," said Torra, adding that "every time a right is denied, it will be necessary to exercise it again".

As a response, the leader of the Spanish liberal party Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, Albert Ribera, asked Spanish acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez at Wednesday's plenary session to respond to Torra's calls for disobedience and contempt.

"It is not a right to apply the article 155 [of the Spanish constitution] but an obligation. I ask you [Sanchez] to take the stand and say that you will apply the [article] 155" said Ribera, who said that Catalonia's national day "is not a celebration for all the Catalans".

Article 155 allows the Spanish government to take measures in exceptional cases to restore constitutional order in any region - similar norms exist in the German, Swiss, Italian, Austrian or Portuguese constitutions.

Sanchez on Wednesday wrote on social media that "today should be a day that unites all Catalans, under the dialogue within the Constitution, coexistence, respect, and understanding".

Incoming trial verdict

The separatist leaders were placed on trial for rebellion and other crimes related to their role in the unilateral secession attempt of October 2017.

The verdict is expected next month, probably before 16 October, as that date will mark two years in preventative detention for two of the separatist leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart - which is the limit under the Spanish law.

However, the judge could extend this date if necessary.

The president of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, said on Tuesday that if there is a harsh sentence from the Supreme Court it "will mark a deeper rupture of the Catalan society than the sentence of 2010" which in his words "triggered the pro-independence majority" in Catalonia.

On 28 June 2010, the Constitutional Court of Spain modified the Catalan statute of autonomy, reducing the political competences of the region - what provoked large protests in Barcelona.

Back then, three Catalan MEPs, Raül Romeva i Rueda (Greens/EFA), Oriol Junqueras Vies (Greens/EFA) and Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (Alde)- asked the EU Council "to open a debate with the Spanish authorities".

The spitzenkandidat of the European Free Alliance (EFA) Oriol Junqueras will also face his first hearing at the Court of Justice of the EU on 14 October - where his lawyer will try to defend his right of parliamentary immunity as an elected MEP.

Junqueras, who is currently imprisoned in Spain for 16 months, was not allowed to leave jail to pledge his signing-in oath for the European Parliament by the Spanish Supreme Court - a requirement to take office as an elected MEP in Spain.

French MPs criticise Catalonia situation ahead of verdict

More than 50 French MPs have voiced their concerns about the situation in Catalonia. The acting Spanish minister for foreign affairs - and incoming EU foreign affairs chief - Josep Borrell has lamented "the ignorance about the reality of Spain".

Opinion

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

High tension in Catalonia two years after referendum

Two years after the former government of Carles Puigdemont held a unilateral independence referendum in defiance of the Spanish courts and constitution, the political and social conflict in Catalonia is still a key issue for both Spain and Europe.

Nine Catalan separatist leaders given long jail terms

Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition and misuse of public funds over their role in Catalonia's 2017 bid for independence. The possible legal immunity of some MEPs remains unanswered.

News in Brief

  1. Macron: Nato's inability to react to Turkey a 'mistake'
  2. EU: US can expect counter measures after tariff move
  3. Almost 7,500 people forcibly returned to Libya in 2019
  4. Puigdemont released after responding to arrest warrant
  5. Commission: Facebook's Libra needs international approach
  6. Italian PM: denial of accession talks a 'historic mistake'
  7. Catalan president blames clashes on 'infiltrators'
  8. US imposes €6.7bn new tariffs on European products

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  2. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  3. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  4. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  6. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  10. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  12. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  2. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  3. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  9. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  12. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us