European Union Tells Catalans: Spain Can Impose Direct Rule, You’re On Your Own

European Union
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The European Union has responded to Catalonia’s overtures to Brussels by saying it will back the Spanish government’s plan to impose direct rule.

The Catalans had called on the bloc to step in and initiate some sort of dialogue between Barcelona and Madrid, but the unelected European Commission now says it will back Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s plan to take over the region’s government and dissolve its parliament, Sky News reports.

A spokesman said the EU would continue to “respect the constitutional and legal arrangement of Spain”, adding that Rajoy’s scheme to install a puppet government was justified within a “constitutional context”.

The EU has thrown its weight behind Rajoy just a day after Catalan foreign affairs spokesman Raul Romeva questioned whether or not the bloc could survive if it stood aside while Spain carried out the “worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco”.

“How can the European Union live with that situation? How can EU democracy survive? And how can they be credible if they allow this to happen?” he demanded.

“Everybody knows [what] is happening … This is not about the independence of Catalonia, this is about democracy.”

The Catalan independence movement had been largely Left-liberal and europhile by disposition before now, with most of its leading lights favouring the so-called ‘Independence within Europe’ model first devised in the 1970s by Scottish nationalist Jim Sillars — who now rejects the idea in favour of full independence, incidentally, citing how much the EU has expanded its powers since then.

The EU’s staunch support for Spain in the current dispute and its willingness to turn a blind eye to Spanish police brutality — endorsed by European Commission First Vice-president Frans Timmermans as “proportionate use of force” — appears to have soured many Catalans on the bloc, however.

European Parliament Vice-president Ramón Luis Valcárcel has even gone so far as to say the Catalans are the ones undermining democracy, accusing them of mounting a “nationalistic coup against Europe”.

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