Carles Puigdemont urged the European Union to support the independence bid
Carles Puigdemont also urged the European Union to support his region in a speech in a packed Brussels auditorium yesterday.
He said: “Europe cannot look the other way.”
In July, Catalonia’s government voted in favour of holding a historic independence referendum, with or without the national government’s consent.
And just two months later, the president won a vote of confidence in his coalition by 72 votes to 63 to help pave the way towards a split from Spain.
Around half the population supports independence
More than 47 per cent of Catalans support the bid for independence according to the latest polls, giving Puigdemont a mandate to call the controversial referendum.
He said: “The state cannot govern with its back to Catalonia, so it’s necessary that there be a solution. The state is clearly gone from bad to worse.
“This has many consequences: uncertainty, even in business, which the Catalan independence process does not.
“When I was made President, the Spanish state had caretaker government; nine months later, they still do."
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And speaking in Brussels this week, he added he vote will still be held regardless of opposition from Madrid, which is likely to continue as Spain regards the Catalan movement as treason.
He said: “This year, the citizens of Catalonia will have the opportunity to finally decide on their future.
“We have maintained and continue to maintain that the referendum is legally viable.
“The problem consists in a lack of political will.”
The move has been hugely opposed by the Spanish government
This year, the citizens of Catalonia will have the opportunity to finally decide on their future.
Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont
His speech is just the start of a Brussels charm offensive by the Catalan government, who have been open about their belief that European recognition is crucial if it is to succeed.
Foreign minister Raül Romeva told the conference: “Europe is a very dear idea to Catalans; we have always felt a part of it and we have seen it as a source of inspiration for our reality.
“Catalans are European citizens and Europe cannot be built without taking into account its citizens.”
Raül Romeva said Europe was important to the Catalans
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy ruled out any plans for the referendum
However, they have been warned that leaving Spain also meant leaving the EU – with former prime minister David Cameron previously suggesting the government would face the laborious process of reapplying for membership as a separate state.
It is thought that EU support of the Catalonia independence bid could cause a huge rift with the government of Spain.
Yesterday Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy ruled out any plans for the referendum, describing it as not negotiable.
He added that the Catalan separatists “would do much better if they looked for that outstretched hand instead of continuing to embrace radicalism and being handcuffed by extremism.”