Jordi Solé slams EU Commission over handling of Catalonia crisis
The EU has been condemned for its “deafening silence” over the crisis in Catalonia.
Speaking in Brussels, Catalan MEP Jordi Solé said the still-unfolding conflict had shown that “the very idea of Europe has shattered.”
The Greens/EFA group member said, “It started fracturing when we had to peacefully protect our ballot boxes and polling stations on 1 October.
“It went on fracturing when the leaders of the two main grassroots independence movements were arrested.
“It continued to fracture when the Spanish authorities illegally took over our government and shut our parliament down.
“It shattered when they jailed eight members of the Catalan government.”
Solé, who was speaking at a gathering of Catalan Mayors, said, “The silence of the European institutions in our hour of need was deafening.”
He told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, “You are getting it wrong. It’s not an internal Spanish matter. It has never been so. It is an EU matter. The credibility of the European project is being tested in Catalonia. And it is failing.
“Do you envisage a future where nationalism in Europe can justify such breaches of fundamental rights? How do you expect to stop populism and euroscepticism when you are unwilling to ensure that Spain, an EU member state, complies with the EU’s fundamental rights and values?”
Over 200 mayors from Catalonia were in Brussels on Tuesday to give their support to the Catalan government and denounce the current political and judicial situation in Catalonia.
The meeting took place a week after deposed Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four ex-ministers from his regional government arrived in Brussels, where they have sought asylum. A court case later this month will decide whether they will be extradited to Spain.
Speaking at Bozar, where the meeting of mayors was held, Solé said, “Some weeks ago we were told by the Commission during a plenary session in Strasbourg that the rule of law is one of the core pillars of democracy. And we agree to that.
“But the rule of law can only be upheld when justice and fairness and separation of powers prevail. Not when revenge, humiliation and abuse of power are the order of the day, as is the current situation in Spain.”
He added, “All that is happening to us is because we dared to vote. And what could be more peaceful, more law abiding, more democratic and more European than voting? We tried to vote and Madrid attempted to suppress with violence one of the most dignified acts of democratic courage Europe has seen in the last couple of decades.
“And now we are going to the polls again, an election imposed on us by Madrid. But we will persevere. And we will win. And when that happens, what will the EU say?
“Will they say, as the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani did some days ago, that no matter how Catalans vote, no matter what a majority of Catalans want, independence will simply never happen? Will they help to jeopardise democracy for the sake of an old-fashioned concept of nation state, the very same concept that the fathers of the current Europe wanted to overcome with political integration?
“Or will they admit that in Europe every political project that’s in accordance with basic values, which is peacefully defended and which is endorsed by a majority of citizens, is legitimate and thus feasible?
Solé told the meeting that “there is only one government of Catalonia.”
He added, “There might be another government in Catalonia, an imposed, illegitimate, half hidden government. But there is only one government of Catalonia.
“Half of it is in jail and half of it is here, far away from home. But it is our government. The members of the legitimate Catalan government are, to us, honourable people that stood and still stand loyal to the democratic mandate, even though this means losing their freedom.”
Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has attempted to contain the internal damage caused by the Belgian government’s stance towards the separatists.
Addressing the Belgian Parliament’s interior committee regarding the crisis in Catalonia, Michel asked from Madrid to open dialogue with the Catalan separatists, underlining that the Belgian government is not willing to interfere within Spain’s affairs and Puigdemont’s extradition to Spain.
“The most important message, which is my strong conviction, is dialogue, dialogue, political dialogue,” Michel told the Belgian MPs, who had numerous questions on his government’s stance. “There is a political crisis in Spain, but not in Belgium,” he added.