The leader of the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, told El Pais on Sunday that the EU will not accept Catalan independence.
MEP Weber’s statement comes on the eve of yet another trial of the former premier of Catalunya, Artur Mas.
In November 2015, the Catalan regional Parliament approved by a roadmap for independence that included what is now considered an illegal referendum, scheduled to take place in September 2017.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has made clear that he will not allow such a referendum to take place.
With 217 seats in Parliament, the EPP is the biggest political party in the European Parliament.
The Catalan High Court (TSJC) moved in October to prosecute the former Catalan premier, Artur Mas, who left office in January 2016. Artur Mas is accused of organizing an informal independence referendum in November 2014 despite a court order explicitly forbidding him from doing so. The former Catalan premier maintains that he did abandon the referendum, leaving “volunteers” to take over. However, the organizers made use of Catalan regional resources.
If convicted, Mas faces a 10-year ban from politics for gross disobedience and perversion of justice.
Weber also praised Mariano Rajoy for assuming responsibility for Spain’s fiscal consolidation rather than blaming Brussels and underscored Spain’s fast pace growth.
Spain has the second biggest rate of unemployment after Greece, although it dropped below 20% in 2016, for the first time since 2010. Moreover, income inequality has risen dramatically changing the political balance of power.