A CONFERENCE linking political activists from across Europe has heard a plea for the EU to listen to Catalonia – the independence-supporting north-eastern region of Spain planning a referendum by the end of September against the wishes of the country’s highest court.

Around 300 delegates attended the Brussels event, organised by the International Commission of European Citizens (ICEC), which was attended by MEPs from four parliamentary groups to debate self-determination in Europe Liz Castro, a member of the board of the Catalan National Assembly, gave delegates an outline of the history of the Catalan struggle for independence.

She told how it had tried unsuccessfully to fit in with Spain and had jumped through all the hoops, negotiating, giving concessions, yet had still fallen foul of the Spanish Constitutional Court. She said Catalonia did not feel represented by the Spanish Government and now, with a pro-independence majority in its parliament, it had a president committed to holding a referendum.

“Catalans insist on democracy,” said Castro. “We do not actively ask the EU to help, but we do ask you to listen, understand the basic democratic deficiencies in Spain, and recognise the insistence on democracy in Catalonia.

“And when we win our referendum in September 2017 and declare independence, we ask that you stand up for democracy and recognise our mandate.”

Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans tweeted: “By maintaining links with our EU brothers and sisters, the dream of an independent Wales in Europe will never die.”

And Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson added: “A fundamental feature of self-determination is to decide what sort of government you want without external interference.”