Tag Archives: Catalans

Catalan MEPs banned from Europarl seats

EU Catalan electorate organised demonstration at doorstep of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 2 – the first day of the sitting of a new legislature. They have been protesting against ban of three of their elected MEPs to access their offices. Oriol Junqueras,  imprisoned in Spain, Charles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin, stay in exile in Belgium.

Carles Puigdemont was expected among the demonstrators but his lawyer Gonzalo Boye convinced him to avoid travelling in France, fearing his arrest.

According to local police, around 10,000 demonstrators participated. They came by bus, cars and even two chartered flights.

Spanish MEPs from parties like the Ciudadanos insist that fugitive suspects do not have the right to sit in the European Parliament, representing electorate.

On Monday, the European Court of Justice agreed with this opinion.

Puigdemont admitted to EU elections

A Madrid court ruled on  that former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who lives in a self-imposed exile in Belgium since 2017 to escape arrest for his prominent role in organising  the independence referendum, could run in the European Parliament election on May 26.

Spain’s electoral commission last month barred Puigdemont and two other fugitive Catalan politicians from standing, but they contested  the decision in court. Puigdemont and Toni Comin live in Belgium while Clara Ponsati lives in Scotland.

All three face imminent arrest in case they return to Spain as the referendum was ruled  not only illegal by the Constitutional Court. Nine Catalan leadersincluding Puigdemont’s former vice-president, Oriol Junqueras  are going through trial in Madrid on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Catalans call for flexible political maneuver

Four Catalan leaders on trial in Madrid over a 2017 referendum their said the independence parties should be more flexible about entering negotiations on forming the next Spanish government after a April 28 national election.

The Catalan leaders’ published an open letter in weekend’s edition of La Vanguardia newspaper, suggesting the independence parties should enter talks with potential coalition partners as long as they refused to rule out an independence referendum as a “possible solution” for the region.

Gomes MEP on “political prisoners” in Spain

Ana GOMES MEP (Portugal, S&D) raises concerns about the policy of Pedro Sanchez government, dealing with the Catalan independence issue as if it is a legal problem, instead of acknowledging its political nature. Gomes promotes dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona, breaking the deadlock through talks. She is also concerned about the methods of repressing of Catalan politicians, reminiscent of times of General Franco regime. “Yes, I have to acknowledge it, there are political prisoners in Spain“, Gomessaid. She criticises the position of the Human rights Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who prefers to ignore the existence of political prisoners in SpainGomes questions the freedom of press in Spain, and inquires if there is a practice of self-censorship among mass media journalists in covering Catalan issue. Among the prisoners is the former colleague of Ana Gomes – MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda appointed later the Minister for External and Institutional Relations of Catalonia.

Clashes in Barcelona ahead of referendum anniversary

Six people arrested, and 24 injured during protests in Barcelona degrading in clashes between police and demonstrators ahead of the anniversary of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. Police have attempted to prevent protesters who gathered in downtown Barcelona to confront another march in support of Spanish police.

Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau asked to “avoid confrontation” between pro-independence groups and people marching in support of Spanish police, who are demanding higher salary.

Catalan police Mossos d’Esquadra, have been active in attempting to avoid the opponent protest groups to confront, Catalan News reports, while pro-independence groups passed along the streets same time as the Spanish agents.

There were moments of tension, when police agents have been violently hitting people with their batons. Protesters later chanted messages against the Catalan police and urged the Catalan minister of Home Affairs, Miquel Buch, to resign.

Although there was some tension in the frontline of the pro-independence march, the atmosphere remained enthusiastic at Plaça Sant Jaume, where thousands of people were protesting against the Spanish police presence in the city.

A helicopter has been monitoring the city center of Barcelona, where the two opposed demonstrations were taking place.

A year ago hundreds of Catalans were injured in clashes between Spanish national police and civilians on the day of the referendum as police tried to stop people from voting.

Catalans refuse to obey to Madrid

Catalan authorities will not follow orders from the Spanish government if Madrid moves to reassert control over the region, a senior official says.

Foreign affairs spokesman Raul Romeva told the central government was acting against the will of Catalans.

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced plans to sack the region’s government and curtail some of the freedoms of its parliament.

The Catalan parliament will meet on Thursday to decide on its response.

The pro-independence leaders could decide to formalise a unilateral declaration of independence.

The Spanish Senate is expected to approve the government’s measures on Friday along with a proposal for fresh regional elections. The Catalan leaders are attempting to catch up with the dynamics of events in Madrid, and react before marginalised.

Spain crisis deepens rejecting Catalan’s vote

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont insists the region has won the right to statehood following a contentious referendum, in spite of riot police crack down on votes.

Puigdemont said the door had been opened to a unilateral declaration of independence.

Catalan officials later underlined that 90% of those who voted backed independence in Sunday’s vote, with the turnout of 42.3%.

Spain’s constitutional court had banned the vote, and hundreds of people were injured as riot police used force to try to block voting, and seize ballot boxes.

National guards stormed  into polling stations to remove ballot papers and boxes, but Catalans demonstrated tenacity to move stations to the other places. The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been tricked into participation in an illegal vote.

#Catalonia: Who is afraid of democracy?

Jordi Solé i Ferrando, MEP, OPINION

Those who would deny Catalonia’s right to self-determination said back in 2015 that Catalan voters would never elect a majority of pro-independence MPs to our parliament, but we did.

Then they said that the pro-independence coalition would be too divided to agree on a new President and a new government, but we did. Then the talk was about the impossibility of passing the budget for 2017, and that would put an early end to the legislative term. But it didn’t happen.

Now opponents of the referendum say that it will never take place. But since last Friday we already know the date – the 1st of October, and question: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent state in the form of a republic?” – of the self-determination referendum, and during the coming weeks Catalans will officially be called to vote. Looking at the track record of those who would deny Catalans the opportunity to decide on our own political future, it is indeed a good sign that they keep saying we will never vote. This is possibly the best reassurance that just the opposite will happen.

In a democracy, how do you prevent a much awaited and widely called-for vote from taking place?

In a democracy, can a vote really be illegal, especially when it comes after all other alternative roads have been blocked by a central government unable and unwilling to negotiate and compromise?

These are the questions that come to mind when we hear from the Spanish government that they will do whatever it takes to impede the vote. Of course, we take it for granted that threats and pressures of every kind and on many people will continue to come from the Spanish government and judiciary. But this won’t make us depart from our commitment to make democracy prevail. We have a democratic mandate to let Catalans vote, and we will honour it. It is our basic democratic rights that are at stake. As the prominent football trainer Pep Guardiola stated clearly last Sunday in Barcelona before a crowd supporting the October referendum, “we will vote even if the Spanish government does not want us to”.  It is certainly not us who is afraid of democracy.

Jordi Solé i Ferrando

Member of the  European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance

Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya

 

Will the Catalan Republic become an EU member state?

 

cataloniaJordi SOLE, MEP, OPINION

The emergence on new states in Europe is nothing new. In fact, many European states emerged at the end of the 20th century: from the Baltic States that regained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, through Czechoslovakia’s split that created the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to the breakup of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which gave birth to no less than seven new states.

The novelty today is that, while these countries did not immediately join the European Union and some of them even took a long and yet unfinished journey towards the Union, an independent Catalonia will claim its right to remain part of the Union, as Catalonia has been a partner in this common project since 1986, has always defined itself as one of the most pro-European countries in the continent, and pro-Europeanism remains a unifying element among Catalonia’s main political parties.

The EU has neither a direct precedent nor a clear policy for what is commonly known as internal enlargement. In fact, EU treaties provide the framework for countries to join the EU and to leave it, but the continuity in the EU of a new state emerging from within the EU is neither explicitly rejected nor foreseen in the treaties.

Nevertheless, the EU has accepted the redefinition of member states’ geographical limits on a number of unexpected cases in the past, adopting pragmatic solutions based on negotiated agreements. That was the case when East and West Germany merged, and also when Greenland decided to leave the EU, but not Denmark, in a referendum.

Furthermore, the EU is committed to the promotion of democracy, which is endorsed as a fundamental principle in its Treaties, and could never punish Catalans (who also enjoy European citizenship rights) for exercising this basic principle in a referendum.

Finally, it is in the economic interest of the EU and its member states –also that of Spain– to include the Catalan Republic among the EU member states, as Catalonia has strong commercial potential, is a strategic location for trade, and is a net contributor to the EU budget.

Thus, there is no reason to think that the EU will not be pragmatic again and will not defend its own economic interests by not taking the Catalan Republic on board.

Jordi Solé

MEP