The European Union has doubled down on its support for police brutality in Catalonia, with European Commission First Vice-president Frans Timmermans dubbing it “proportionate use of force”.
Speaking in the European Parliament on Wednesday, the top eurocrat condemned Catalonia’s regional government for holding a vote on independence, saying it had “chosen to ignore the law in organising the referendum of last Sunday”, Politico reports.
“Violence does not solve anything in politics. It is never an answer, never a solution, and it can never be used as a weapon or instrument,” he added, before immediately contradicting himself in order to endorse Madrid’s efforts to violently disrupt the vote: “However, it is a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.”
Dear @JunckerEU :
Article 7 of the European Union Treaty
"Suspension of any Member State that uses military force on its own population."
Please share.#SpainOutOfEU#ShameOnSpain#CatalanReferendum pic.twitter.com/WUfBoAf75N
— Liz Castro (@lizcastro) October 1, 2017
The European Commission had previously dismissed the violence as “an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain”.
It also agreed with Madrid that the referendum was illegal, and warned that Catalonia would be thrown out of the EU if it did break away — a bitter blow to a broadly left-liberal independence movement which had always been sympathetic to the bloc and its federal aspirations.
European Parliament Vice-President Ramón Luis Valcárcel had even gone so far as to condemn the referendum as “a nationalistic propaganda act, undemocratic; a coup attempt against Spanish democracy, and so a coup against Europe”.
The EU’s institutional position has drawn heavy criticism from some quarters due to its apparent inconsistency, with detractors pointing to its relative keenness to involve itself in the internal affairs of conservative member-states in Central Europe, such as Hungary and Poland.
Indeed, the European Commission announced shortly after its initial statement on Catalonia that it would be pursuing legal action against the Hungarians in order to overturn a new NGO law, which will require foreign-funded ‘civil society’ organisations campaigning in the country to list their big overseas backers on a public register.
“The double standards of the Commission is something that leaps to the eye,” noted Polish MEP Ryszard Legutko wryly.
— LBC (@LBC) October 3, 2017
“I’ve sat there in that chamber when [European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has] criticised the Hungarian government … he’s condemned the Poles … Can you imagine if the British police beat up a couple of anti-Brexit demonstrators with the EU flag?” asked Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage on his LBC radio show.
“Gosh, we’d be hauled straight before the European Court of Human Rights, and we would be declared to be behaving like a Third World country.
“And yet — and yet! — in the case of Catalonia, Mr. Juncker tries to go through the whole debate [in the European Parliament] completely ignoring it.”