Members of the European Parliament presented on Friday in Barcelona the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform and regretted the “unacceptable silence” of the EU institutions over the situation in the country. “It’s shocking that so few people are ready to speak out” said the spokesman of the group, former Slovenian Foreign Affairs minister and liberal MEP Ivo Vajgl. “In the name of the European Parliament, I’m sorry for this silence. What is happening in Catalonia is a shame for Europe” added Italian MEP Eleonora Florenza.

They are both part of a group of about 40 MEPs from a dozen member states that are urging European institutions to get engaged in the Catalan crisis and mediate in order to find a political solution. “Democracy is all about understanding each other, speaking to each other, finding the way of compromise” said Ivo Vajgl. “I’m making no difference coming here between those that are pro-independence and those who are against. I’m ready to discuss with everybody and listen to their arguments” he added.

However, Vajgl condemned the imprisonment of Catalan leaders, saying it is “outrageous and absurd to put elected members of parliament in jail under such circusmtances”. The Slovenian MEP said that he considers himself a “friend” of Raül Romeva, deposed Catalan  Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is currently in jail. “He is an inspiration to me” he added. According to Vajgl, Spain’s decision to jail Catalan leaders is an attempt to humiliate them”.

Building dialogue in Europe

The Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza also took part in the event to denounce the current situation in Catalonia. “It is incredible that in 2018 we speak about exile and pre-trial prison” she said. “What is happening in Catalonia is a shame”. For her, there has been “a lack in building dialogue in Europe with Spain and Catalonia”. Indeed, promoting a EU mediation which should lead to an agreed referendum is one of the aims of the platform, as well as avoiding the extraditions of the deposed ministers abroad.

The Basque MEP Izaskun Bilbao also emphasized the “disappointment for the silence” among the EU authorities. This criticism came also from the deposed Catalan delegate in France and Switzerland, Martí Anglada. “There is a democratic drive in Europe, of course, but there is also a natural solidarity among the member states, it is the easy path” he claimed.

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Vicent Partal
Director de VilaWeb