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Vicent Partal


Last night was an important test

Last night, in Maastricht, the first debate was held with the five candidates to the European Commission presidency. It closely resembled an American format, moderated by Euronews journalist Chris Burns and Monica Maggioni, Director of the Italian public television channel RAI News24. They made it clear that they themselves had selected the questions to be posed to the candidates, according to the degree of importance the questions had with the whole of Europe and the millions of spectators that were following the debate live. And there was one question about Catalonia.

Sometimes, still, I find people who are still not sure about our international importance, who still believe the Spanish narrative, that narrative that says that we are nobody and that we matter to nobody. Well, here is undeniable proof to the contrary: the Catalan question was put to the five candidates openly, and they found themselves obligated to answer whether they would accept an independent Catalonia within the EU.

With that, in addition, it was clearly shown that this unanimous anti-Catalanism that the Spanish are selling is nowhere to be seen. If it was so obvious that we would be out of the EU, why did anyone bother to ask the question, or respond to it? And further: only the European Popular Party (and Unió) candidate was decisively negative about Catalonia's aspirations. The Socialist avoided the debate as much as he could, the liberal was uncomfortable but remarked that Europe could not turn its back on the will of the Catalans, the Greek Tsipras permitted himself the luxury of offering lessons in federalism but recognized the right to self-determination, and the Greens candidate made a splendid response as she said that if she presides the European Commission, she would welcome the independent states of Catalonia and Scotland into the European Union. Double smackdown, then, for the Spanish Government, who would have loved for the matter to never have been mentioned. Or that, at any rate, there had been unanimous support for sending us into space for centuries upon centuries.

The Spanish Government, and some Spanish and Catalan media, are making a big effort to discourage us. And part of that effort consists in saying that the sovereignty debate is absurd, that no one outside the Spanish state understands or has any interest in it. They want us to feel misunderstood and to imagine that victory is beyond our reach. But the European reality is what it is and it is clear that Catalonia is in the center of the debate. That was made absolutely obvious yesterday.

Mail Obert