Brussels correspondents grill Commission over its inaction on Catalonia

  • They draw a parallel between the Spanish authorities’ actions in Catalonia and the case of Turkey

27.09.2017 - 13:36

La premsa lliure no la paga el govern, la paguen els lectors

Fes-te de VilaWeb, fem-nos lliures

European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas has stated that the closure of websites supporting Catalonia’s referendum on independence, such as the Catalan National Assembly’s (which Spain’s Guardia Civil shut down yesterday) is lawful. Some international correspondents in Brussels enquired whether shutting down websites and harassing news outlets might be an attack on free speech. They even drew a parallel between the actions taken by the Spanish authorities in Catalonia and the case of Turkey. Schinas refused to comment and remarked that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

The spokesperson replied that the legal action had been ordered by a court of law in a specific context and that the Commission had “neither a say nor any competence” on issues to do with the constitutional order of a member state. “We cannot improvise competences we don’t have”, he insisted. Following Schinas’ answer, several foreign reporters pressed him on the attack on free speech. In fact, they accused the Commission of having two different standards on “legality” and “free speech”. A journalist asked how they could possibly question the situation of media in Turkey but not in Spain, considering that in both countries judges had ordered news outlets to be shut down. Another reporter criticised the Commission for having “condemned” the closure of a newspaper in Cambodia but “having nothing to say” when it comes to “the lack of free speech in the EU”.

Yet another reporter noted that the Commission had “two different positions” on free speech: the first one applied to countries “such as Hungary and Turkey”; the second, on the issue of Spain and Catalonia. Schinas skirted the accusation and said that everyone could interpret it as they wished.


La premsa lliure no la paga el govern. La paguem els lectors.

Fes-te de VilaWeb, fem-nos lliures.

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