I HAVE never made any secret of the fact that I would have liked the United Kingdom to stay part of the European Union but regardless of my own personal preferences, I respect the result of the referendum that set the country on the road towards Brexit, which became a reality on Friday.

Nevertheless as a Catalan and as a European, I regret that the European Union was not able to convince the United Kingdom that the best option was to remain.

In the referendum, the pro-European sentiment held by the majority of Scottish voters was left in no doubt. In my capacity as a Catalan MEP, I will work from within the institutional heart of the European Union to ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard in Brussels and Strasbourg and that, before long, your yellow star, and Catalonia’s, will join those of the other states of the union.

If Scotland were an independent country, it would have voted to remain in the EU. London will have to accept the undeniable reality that Scotland, with a clear political majority in support of the first minister Nicola Sturgeon, has the right to hold a second referendum on independence because the situation has changed dramatically since the first one was held, when nobody expected that Brexit could happen.

In the European Parliament, the Catalan representatives who continue to call for an agreed, binding and internationally recognized referendum for Catalonia, also unequivocally advocate that a new referendum on Scottish independence be held, which I also hope will provide the democratic path that enables the Scots to return to the fold of the European Union.

The Catalan political process has drawn parallels with the “Scottish approach” on many occasions despite the differences in how the two situations have been dealt with politically.

Although the demands of a significant proportion, indeed a majority, of the Scottish and Catalan population may be the same – namely to hold a referendum on independence – in the case of Catalonia, the Spanish state has opted not to listen to Catalans based on the enduring sacred idea it holds of its territorial unity, as though it were a religion.

To date, throughout the last 45 years since the death of the dictator Franco, not a single Spanish government has been politically willing to consider solutions for the Catalan case, to the extent of actually denying the fact that the Catalan issue should represent a political problem.

The only response we have received has been in the form of repression, whether it be imprisonment, exile, disqualification from office or persecution of the Catalan political class and civil society that support exercising the right of self-determination.

They have still not grasped the fact that Catalans have no problem with Spaniards or with Spain – just like Scots have no issue with the English or with England.

Rather, the problem stems from the complete inability of the state and the Spanish political system to understand the legitimate demands of Catalans.

THOSE of us who have to bear imprisonment or life in exile did no more than ask to vote freely to decide our political future, in view of the fact that the Catalan government – which I had the honour of heading – had the support of a parliamentary majority to hold the referendum, just as the Scottish Government has from its citizens.

As such, the Scottish approach is the model that the Catalan Government wanted to apply when we called the referendum on October 1 2017. However, unlike in the United Kingdom, dialogue and politics required to discuss the critical issues regarding Catalonia’s relationship with Spain was sorely lacking.

The Spanish state is capable of reaching agreements to integrate within the European Union, passing laws to promote gender equality or proposing solutions to fight climate change, just like any other consolidated democracy. But it does not have the capacity to seek political solutions when it comes to matters of its own territory.

The Scots had the opportunity to discuss the country’s independence in a campaign filled with arguments for and against, in which the advocates of Better Together put forward their legitimate reasons for asking Scottish citizens to remain in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile in the Spanish state, now and traditionally, they dealt with Catalan political aspirations with the force of their batons, and by using judicial channels for political ends. This weakens democracy and invalidates the rule of law.

Undoubtedly, you will be able to hold a second referendum without the threat of 10,000 police officers being deployed to beat citizens trying to vote. You will be able to hold indyref2 without Nicola Sturgeon being formally accused of rebellion and sedition.

Neither will elected MPs be held in custody on remand, nor will the Parliament be dismissed or dissolved. Our sense of realism leads us to conclude that the route taken by Scotland is not currently an option for us, because Madrid does not have the political will nor London’s democratic tradition to negotiate major agreements.

We hope that this will change, because there is a great deal at stake for all of us.

THE right to self-determination of Scotland, Catalonia and other European nations is a European matter of the utmost importance.

I am confident that the political institutions of the EU will strive to ensure that, in all cases, a serious political dialogue is established to enable a stable resolution to be reached.

Europe is not a fast, magical solution that automatically tells us we are right. It is simply a stakeholder in this conflict.

It needs to realise the role it has to play, in the knowledge that, right from the outset, the European Union is not in favour of Catalan or Scottish independence.

However, Europe is also a place where it must always be possible to resolve political conflicts by voting. As we have been reminded on more than one occasion by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, named after one of the four founding fathers of the European Union, problems are not resolved by police and the justice system. Rather they must be resolved through politics.

In both the Scottish and Catalan cases, independence will be far more of a process than an event. I am convinced that we will find a route towards independence in “European style”, based on negotiation and agreement.

In the European Parliament, we defend a Europe that is committed to its citizens’ interests above the interests of states. The lack of leadership in the European Union has led the European project to a profound state of stagnation that distances it from its founding values of peace, democracy, economic progress and solidarity, while also feeding Euroscepticism.

However, the solution is not a matter of dismantling a project that, despite its shortcomings, has brought peace to the continent after centuries of war.

My Europe upholds the right to self-determination. The democratic movements in Catalonia and Scotland must not be seen as a potential crisis for Europe, but rather as a democratic opportunity, to reaffirm that democracy is more important than any borders.

This is our chance to insist that political situations must be resolved by voting and not by violence.

In fact, in modern Europe, sovereignty is a daily referendum.