The Spanish Constitutional Court suspended a session of the Catalan Parliament set for Monday in order to pre-empt the region’s declaration of independence.
The Court’s decision on Thursday came following the challenge of the Catalan chapter of the Socialist Party (PSOE), which argued that the session would constitute “a breach of the constitution.”
In an interview with the Catalunya Ràdio station on Thursday, the President of the regional assembly, Mr. Forcadell, said she did not know whether a declaration of independence would be debated next week in Parliament.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament held a plenary session focusing on Catalonia on Wednesday. The biggest political groups – EPP, S&D, ALDE – made clear that the Catalan referendum and its result are illegal, although there was also severe criticism of the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Addressing the European Parliament, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans noted that “under the Spanish Constitution, Sunday’s vote in Catalonia was not legal.” Despite holding Catalonia accountable to Spanish rule of law, Timmermans asked for dialogue, El Pais reports.
Along the same line of argumentation, the President of the European People’s Party Manfred Weber underscored that what is at stake is nothing less than “the integrity of an EU member state.” Gianni Pitella criticized Mariano Rajoy but also made clear that the Catalan referendum violated the Spanish constitution and the rule of law. The leader of ALDE, Guy Verhofstadt, took a step further to suggest that “the referendum lacked basic democratic legitimacy.”
Mariano Rajoy has warned of “greater damage” if Catalan separatists go ahead with a unilateral declaration of independence. The Spanish Constitution allows for the dissolution of the local government and direct rule, although such a move would constitute greater political escalation.