Prosecuting Catalan Leaders ‘Can Only Fuel’ Independence

MEP Tremosa tells Catalan News that ‘in Brussels it’s very difficult to justify denying not only a referendum but also political dialogue’

Prosecuting pro-independence leaders is counter-productive for Spain. At least this is what Catalan Liberal MEP, Ramon Tremosa, who is in favor of independence, argued in an interview with Catalan News. “I don’t see what the ultimate reason is for the Spanish government to proceed like this; it can only fuel pro-independence wishes,” he said. Tremosa, who is the ALDE group coordinator for Economic Affairs, added that in Brussels “nobody understands” the Spanish government strategy, which so far has sent former Catalan President Artur Mas to court, along with three of his ministers and most of the Parliament Bureau members, including the Parliamentary President Carme Forcadell.

Tremosa warned Spain against using a “repressive” strategy to stop independence in Catalonia. “If the Spanish government stops the October 1 referendum, we do not know how, it won’t solve the Catalan problem. On the contrary, it will make it bigger,” he said. The Catalan government is calling a referendum on independence for October 1 but it doesn’t have the support of Madrid.

The ALDE MEP also said that talk about seizing pro-independence politicians’ assets is “totally outside the democratic framework.” “When we explain to MEPS that there might be a seizure of assets, their faces look totally shocked,” said Tremosa. According to the MEP, if the Spanish government “behaves more like a dictatorship than a democracy,” it will make recognition of Catalan independence “more likely”.

“If the Spanish government stops the October 1 referendum, we do not know how, it won’t solve the Catalan problem. On the contrary, it will make it bigger”

Ramon Tremosa · PDECAT MEP

Tremosa explained that even members of the Spanish delegation of the Socialist Party in the European Parliament “publicly admit” that Madrid’s current strategy is not working. “When you are in Brussels, it’s very difficult to justify why the Spanish government is still denying, not only an independence referendum, but also political dialogue with the Catalan institutions,” he quoted PSOE MEP Ramon Jáuregui as saying.

The Catalan MEP pointed to the “very poor” arguments used by the Spanish government to defuse pro-independence wishes, adding that they make the case for ‘yes’ easier. According to Tremosa, threats of expulsion from the EU are unfounded. Catalonia, he argued, is “a very open economy, with 7,000 multinationals” and its commercial, tourist and industrial potential make that scenario unlikely.

“It is not easy to expel a country,” he said, pointing to the difficulties that have emerged in the Brexit negotiations, even after Britain actually voted to leave the EU. Catalans, all polls show, want to stay in the European Union, even if they become independent.

“The Spanish economy would be seriously damaged,” by a Catalan exit from the EU, he added. And “nobody” in Brussels would want the region to become a “Singapore in the South of Europe” that could do “social and economic dumping” to its former partners, he insisted.

“If the only answer from Madrid is ‘you will be expelled from everything’, it is very poor. Madrid is losing in Catalonia. If you do not hear the arguments of the other side, you don’t try to argue against them; at the end of the day you would probably lose the debate,” he explained.

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