I HAVE been speaking to a number of my Catalan colleagues in Strasbourg as always – we sit with the Esquerra MEPs – and they are expecting the final stages of formal formation of the government with the support of the CUP, the leftist group which gained seats at the last election.

That is all moving forward and it’s moving forward at the usual sort of pace. They are also saying that the court cases against individual Catalan politicians which have been started are not necessarily progressing with any urgency, although they are progressing – the constitutional court being very quick to start a case but not necessarily to proceed it.

It’s all eyes on December when the Spanish state-wide election takes place. There are various lists going forward from Catalonia. They’ve not been able to maintain the Junts pel Si list, which was a pro-independence list for the last Catalan election which more or less united pro-independence voices, so for the December election there will be a couple of pro-independence lists going forward from Catalonia and they should pick up a good few seats.

We have seen the declaration adopted by the Catalan parliament that a process has now started towards independence. That’s their democratic right to do so but many things are still very much unclear at the moment.

The 18-month road map foreseen in the declaration does seem like a tall order in the teeth of opposition from Madrid. My advice both on and off the record is that if this is not done by a specific, inclusive, democratic process and a specific open agreement between Barcelona and Madrid it’s going to be an awful lot more difficult and more fraught than it otherwise could and should be.

I think there is scope for a different sort of dialogue with Madrid because we’ll see who is elected; we’ll see whether the personnel changes – there are some signs there will be more pro-independence or pro-democracy voices within the Madrid parliament.

We must internationalise this discussion because if we leave it to Madrid and Catalonia as a domestic Spanish matter then I think frustration can only grow, where within the European Union we’re all about democracy and human rights and rule of law, then I think we owe a duty to support the democratic process within Catalonia and indeed within the state of Spain.

The EU is a union of the people of Europe, not states.

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