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As Catalonia crisis deepens, EU is nowhere to be seen

As Catalonia crisis deepens, EU is nowhere to be seen

The European Union has nothing to do with the results of Catalan referendum, Carles Puigdemont, the separatists’ leader, promised to declare an independent state within days. As separatism crisis in Spain deepens, EU is nowhere to be seen, say the experts.

The EU’s attention is in Spain this week, especially after Mr Puigdemont as a leader of separatists has appealed for Brussels to intervene. “It cannot look the other way any longer,” he said this week.

In fact, the EU is at this moment of acute peril, whole European building can be blown. What to do in this situation, nobody knows, even after Brexit’s fact, Jean-Claude Juncker couldn’t find an answer to Catalan events. The only official comment from the European Commission was the referendum ‘is not legal’.

The European leaders such as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel could be in full mediation mode but they prefer not to intervene the process by now. So far, the common EU opinion is non-intervention into the internal affairs of Spain.

The argument advanced by Brussels and its apologists that Catalonia is an internal Spanish matter and the EU has no standing in the dispute is legally contentious. But in a sense, that does not matter. The EU’s attempt to wash its hands of the crisis is politically unsustainable.

spain catalonia

EU, Spain and Catalan issue

The longer the EU refuses to help, the more political ammunition it will give its detractors, not least the hard-right, populist and xenophobic forces that came to the fore in recent elections in France and Germany.

Spain’s attempt to stop Catalan secessionists by brute force also sends a problematic message to like-minded groups elsewhere in Europe that, until now, have stuck to peaceful campaigning.

Rajoy’s weekend police action is being investigated for human rights violations by the Catalan authorities, and possibly the UN too. Spanish national laws may have been broken. And Rajoy may also be in breach of Spain’s obligations under EU and international law.