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MNI EXCLUSIVE: Officials Seek More EU Action on Catalan Crisis

MNI (London)
By Tara Oakes and Jack Duffy
     PARIS (MNI) - Catalan officials have called for the European Union and the
international community to mediate its crisis with the Spanish government on
Monday and signalled they could declare independence within days.
     Catalonia expects "the solidarity of the international institutions,"
Josep-Maria Terricabras, a Catalan MEP who is Vice Chairman of the European
Parliament's Greens group, said in an interview with MNI.
     "And at least the intermediation of the EU," he added.
     The Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont told a news conference on Monday that
"it's obvious that we need mediation. It is not a domestic matter".
     The European Commission rejected the pleas for intervention, however,
saying in a statement that Catalonia's independence referendum on Sunday was "an
internal matter for Spain" that "has to be dealt with in line with the
constitutional order of Spain".
     The Commission's decision to keep their distance will be welcomed by some,
including Javier Nart, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's ALDE liberal
     "A European intervention would be nonsense that would violate the Treaty of
the union," Nart told MNI.
     But pressure is mounting from domestic and international voices after
graphic pictures of alleged police brutality shocked the world, a fact that Nart
     "We are well aware that the images broadcasted have had a deep impact in
the European public opinion," Nart said. He added that although police had acted
in accordance to the constitution, if "excesses" were proven to have occurred
they would be punishable.
     The pressure has worked to a degree. Late Monday, Antonio Tajani, President
of the European Parliament, confirmed there would be a debate in Strasbourg on
the issue in the chamber on Wednesday.
     The Catalan government said Sunday that 90% of 2.3 million votes cast in
Sunday's referendum -- about 42% of the 5.4 million eligible voters -- had been
in favour of independence.
     Spanish stocks, government bonds and the euro fell on Monday as the
standoff raised the chances that Madrid could activate a constitutional clause
to suspend Catalonia's regional autonomy.
     Terricabras, who along with others is seeking a European Parliament debate
on the situation, said Catalonia could declare itself an independent country by
Wednesday, although he acknowledged there would be no international recognition
of the move.
     Catalonia can "declare - not proclaim - independence," he said.
     "These are two different things. Proclaim means that you have been
recognized. We are saying we see ourselves as an independent country," he told
     Some Spanish MEPs from outside of Catalonia, while denouncing the
independence referendum, called on the EU to do more to defuse the situation.
     "The vote is not legal and can't be applied, that's a fact," Florent
Marcellesi, a Greens MEP from Spain, told MNI.
     "At the same time, we can't ignore that millions of Catalan people ask the
end of the status quo and to vote on a new relationship with Spain," he said.
     Marcellesi said the EU "should mediate, helping to seat around the table
the Spanish and Catalonian government and help them to find a political and
negotiated solution to the conflict".
--MNI Paris Bureau; tel: +33 1-42-71-55-41; email:
--MNI Brussels Bureau; +44 203-865-3851; email:
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email:
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MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 |

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