Check back here regularly to find out what's going on at APPG for Catalonia.

By refusing to address the Catalan crisis, the EU shows itself at its worst


Will Gore, The Independent, 23 October 2017


Plainly the question of Catalan independence is complex one, not least in terms of establishing whether a majority of the population there actually wishes formally to break from Spain. Moreover, there are regional independence movements within other parts of the EU: a pronouncement from Brussels on Catalonia has much wider consequences.

Yet the EU’s reluctance to become embroiled has meant it refuses even to comment on the very obvious brutality of Spanish police officers who sought to prevent the Catalan referendum. Whatever the vote’s legal basis, surely condemning violence by the authorities against innocent people isn’t too much of a stretch, is it? One might have thought the EU could also be interested in reports of violence by Spanish neo-Nazis opposed to Catalan independence, as well as claims those extreme nationalists have been given free reign by police. 

Read the full article HERE


The Spanish Prime Minister Has Moved Aggressively to Crush Catalonia's Independence Bid

Joseph Wilson, Time, 23 October 2017

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy left the nation breathless when he announced the steps he wants to take to crush the separatist movement in the prosperous Catalonia region.

Rajoy called on Spain's Senate on Saturday to trigger a previously untapped section of the constitution that allows the central government to temporarily intervene in the running of a region if its leaders have broken the law.


Activating the constitutional authority granted by Article 155 is Madrid's boldest response so far to avowals from Catalonia's leaders to declare independence based on an Oct. 1 referendum that a court has judged as illegal.

There are some of the regional powers Rajoy is seeking by triggering Article 155:

Read the full article HERE

Catalonia cr​isis: Officials 'won't follow orders from Madrid'


BBC News, 23 October 2017


Catalan authorities will not follow orders from the Spanish government if Madrid moves to reassert control over the region, a senior official says.

Foreign affairs spokesman Raul Romeva told the BBC the central government was acting against the will of Catalans.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced plans to sack the region's government and curtail some of the freedoms of its parliament.

Read the full article HERE

MSPs seek to condemn Madrid over Catalonia

Stephen McIlkenny, The Scotsman, 20 October 2017



There have been calls for the Scottish Parliament to condemn the behaviour and actions of the Spanish government “in the strongest possible terms” following recent events in Catalonia.

Two motions, one from Ivan McKee MSP for Glasgow Provan, put forward a motion to condemn the actions of the Spanish government following the sentencing of two prominent Catalan figures.


In a motion in parliament, the MSP urged MSPs to speak out against the actions in the region “to cease what it [Holyrood] considers this repression against the people and the government of Catalonia”.

Read the full article HERE


Merkel, Macron Back Spain In Catalan Crisis


Channels Television, 19 October 2017


EU leaders gathering for a summit in Brussels closed ranks behind Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, saying the standoff over Catalonia’s independence drive must be settled within the provisions of Spain’s constitution.

The show of unity comes as Madrid vowed to take back some of the Catalan regional government’s powers and its leader warned he could declare independence, deepening the crisis still further.

Read the full report HERE


PM call with Prime Minister Rajoy: 17 Oct 2017


Theresa May spoke with the Prime Minister of Spain about the forest fires in northern Spain, the ongoing situation in Caalonia and this week’s European Council... 

he two leaders discussed the ongoing situation in Catalonia. The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK is clear that the referendum had no legal basis and that any unilateral declaration of independence would be inconsistent with the rule of law. She added that the UK would not recognise any such declaration of independence by Catalonia.


Catalonia crisis: Spain warns on self-rule as deadline looms



BBN News, 18 October 2017


Spain will move to suspend Catalonia's autonomy unless the region's leader drops his push for independence, the deputy prime minister says.

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría gave the warning a day before a Spanish deadline to Carles Puigdemont was due to expire.

Catalonia's government has insisted it will not meet Madrid's demands in the wake of a disputed vote on secession.

Read the full article HERE


It's clear – the Catalans have international law on their side



Ian Mcwhirter, Political Editor, The Herald, 18 October 2017


THERE have been apocalyptic red skies over the UK from forest fires which began in Spain, an apt metaphor for the crisis engulfing Iberian politics as the hours tick by until the expiry, tomorrow, of the Madrid ultimatum that the Catalonian government renounce independence.

The rest of Europe cannot avoid fallout if the fourth largest economy in the EU disintegrates in violence, as did Yugoslavia in 1991. It may seem alarmist to raise the spectre of civil war but the crisis in Catalonia has been spiralling out of control since the brutal attempts by Spanish police to suppress the unauthorised independence referendum two weeks ago.

Read the full article HERE


Catalonia: Spain detains two separatists


BBC News, 17 October 2017

A Spanish judge has jailed two key members of the Catalan independence movement.

Jordi Sánchez and Jordi Cuixart, who lead prominent separatist groups, are being held without bail while they are under investigation for sedition.

The men were leading figures in the 1 October independence vote, which the Madrid government regards as illegal.

Their detention led to protests overnight, with more expected across Catalonia on Tuesday.


Read the full article HERE


Juncker says does not want Catalan independence


SwissInfo, 13 October 2017

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said on Friday he did not want Catalonia to become independent as it would encourage other regions to do the same and make governing the EU too complicated.

"If we allow Catalonia -- and it is none of our business -- to separate, others will do the same. I do not want that," Jean Claude Juncker said in a speech at Luxembourg University.

He said he was "very worried" about separatist tendencies in Europe and had encouraged Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to ensure the situation was brought under control.


Read the full article HERE



Rights group slams police violence in Catalonia


The Washington Post, 12 October 2017

A global human rights organization says Spanish police used excessive force when they faced peaceful protesters earlier this month during a disputed independence referendum in Catalonia.

The Oct. 1 vote went ahead despite a ban by Spain’s top court. Under the country’s Constitution, only central authorities can call votes on sovereignty matters and all eligible voters in Spain, and not only inhabitants of a region, should cast a ballot.

Police used batons on non-threatening protesters and caused multiple injuries, says Human Rights Watch in a report released on Thursday.

The U.S.-based organization says its researchers interviewed victims and witnesses in three locations and reviewed images from clashes across the northeastern region.


Read the full article HERE



Catalonia deserves independence as much as any other state



Jeremy Norman, The Spectator, 12 October 2017


Few, if any, commentators have seen fit to discuss the wider issue and the underlying morality from first principles. The instant reaction in all quarters has been to back Spain over the plucky little Catalans.

The principle of national self-determination was laid down by Woodrow Wilson after the First World War and accepted by the colonial powers who unwound their empires, if somewhat reluctantly, over the next half-century. Both the League of Nations and the United Nations were founded partly to advocate for this principal. In the case of Kosovo we actually attacked Serbia for refusing the Kosovans this basic human right.

Read the full article HERE




Spain suspends Catalan parliament session in attempt to block independence

Sam Jones, The Guardian, 5 October 2017


Spain’s constitutional court has suspended a Catalan parliament session planned for Monday in an attempt to block an expected declaration of independence by the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont.

Upholding a challenge by Catalonia’s Socialist party, which opposes secession from Spain, the court ruled that allowing the regional parliament to meet and declare independence would violate the rights of the party’s MPs.

The court warned that any session carried out in defiance of its ban would be “null. It said the parliament’s leaders could face criminal action if they ignore the court order.


Read the full article HERE



Catalan referendum: Dangerous use of force by Spanish police confirmed by Amnesty



Amnesty International Press Release, 4 October 2017

Spanish authorities must carry out a swift, thorough and impartial investigation after Amnesty International observers in Catalonia confirmed excessive and unnecessary use of force by police, including the beating of defenceless people and the use of rubber balls to subdue peaceful protesters.

A team of Amnesty observers confirmed that members of the National Police force's Police Intervention Unit (UIP) and Civil Guard officers used excessive and disproportionate force against demonstrators who were passively resisting in the streets and at entrances to polling stations.


Read Amnesty's press release HERE


King Felipe: Catalonia's authorities have 'scorned' all Spaniards with referendum



Sam Jones, The Guardian, 4 October 2017


King Felipe of Spain has accused the Catalan authorities of attempting to break “the unity of Spain” and warned that their push for independence could risk the country’s social and economic stability.

In a rare and strongly worded television address on Tuesday evening, he said the Catalan government’s behaviour had “eroded the harmony and co-existence within Catalan society itself, managing, unfortunately, to divide it”.

Speaking two days after the regional government’s unilateral independence referendum, in which 90% of participants opted to secede from Spain, he described Catalan society as “fractured” but said Spain would remain united.

The king made no mention of the violence that marred the referendum when Spanish police officers raided polling stations, beat would-be voters and fired rubber bullets at crowds.

Read the full article HERE




Catalan referendum: Riot police 'fire rubber bullets' at crowd as they block voters at besieged polling stations - latest news



  • Police in riot gear fire rubber bullets at pro-independence activists
  • 38 people who were injured in a police crackdown 
  • Ballot boxes seized by police in referendum banned by Madrid
  • Madrid appeals for "cooperation and respect"

Spanish riot police fired rubber bullets and seized ballot boxes from polling stations in Catalonia on Sunday as thousands flooded the streets to vote in an independence referendum banned by Madrid.

Read the full article HERE



Catalonia: Teachers and students prepare to open schools for referendum


BBC News, 29 September 2017


Teachers and students at some schools in Catalonia are organising to keep schools open to serve as polling stations for Sunday's outlawed referendum on independence from Spain.

Coded messages are being sent on social media to make arrangements, the La Vanguardia newspaper reported.

Hundreds of teachers gathered at the regional government's headquarters on Thursday, chanting "we will open" and "we will vote".

Madrid has vowed to prevent the poll.


Read the full article HERE



Spain's measures to block Catalan referendum criticized by UN rights experts




Colm Tóibín: ‘Catalonia is a region in the process of reimagining itself’



CBC News, 28 September 2017


The UN Human Rights Council issued a statement Thursday criticizing Spanish government efforts to block a referendum on independence in Catalonia. 

The vote is scheduled for Oct. 1 but the central government in Madrid says the referendum is illegal and can't happen.

In the council's statement, UN human rights experts say, "Regardless of the lawfulness of the referendum, the Spanish authorities have a responsibility to respect those rights that are essential to democratic societies."


Read the full article HERE




MSPs urge Spanish government to engage with the people of Catalonia 'democratically'


Kate Shannon, Holyrood, 25 September 2017

A cross-party group of Scottish politicians have united to urge the Spanish government to allow the people of Catalonia to decide their future democratically.

In a letter signed by 18 MSPs from all parties and addressed to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy Brey, the politicians said that the escalation of tensions over the proposed independence referendum can only be resolved through political action, dialogue and by allowing the people to “express their will democratically”.

It follows rising tensions in Spain, after the devolved Catalan administration decided to call an independence referendum on 1 October, which the central government has described as illegal.

Read the full article HERE



Spain takes control of Catalan govt spending




Washington Post, 20 September 2017


Spain’s Finance Ministry says it has imposed further controls of the Catalan government’s finances to ensure no public money is used for a planned Oct. 1 vote on the region’s independence that Spain says violates the constitution.

Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro signed an order late Tuesday that limits new credit and requires central authorities’ supervision for every payment of non-essential services in the northeastern region of Catalonia. The decision came after Catalan officials failed to voluntarily agree to the controls.

Read the full article HERE



Spanish police storm Catalan government buildings to stop independence referendum



Jon Stone, The Independent, 20 September 2017


Spanish national police have stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia's regional government to put a stop to the region's independence referendum.

The Guardia Civil, which acts with the authority of Madrid's interior ministry, is searching for evidence regarding the planned 1 October referendum on Catalan independence, which Spain's Constitutional Court has declared illegal.

In the early hours of the morning armed officers arrived at various Catalan ministries, including the economy department, foreign affairs department, and social affairs department, Spanish media reports.

Sponsored Links At least twelve Catalan officials have been arrested, Spanish media reports, including the chief aide to Catalonia's deputy prime minister, Josep Maria Jové.


Read the full article HERE



Catalonia: Vote and let vote


Jordi Solé, Euractiv, 19 September 2017


We did it again. On 11 September, a crowd of one million people gathered again in the streets of Barcelona – and it was already the sixth consecutive year – calling for independence for Catalonia. And once again it was all conducted in a peaceful and civil manner, with not a single incident to regret.


But this time was different. People’s faces looked more cheerful and determined than ever. Why? Because the rally came less than three weeks before Catalonia holds a decisive vote on independence, something a significant proportion of Catalans have been aiming for in recent years.

So we will hold a vote.

Read the full article HERE

Jordi Solé is a member of the European Parliament for the Greens/European Free Alliance. He is from Catalonia and supports the independence referendum.



Review of Raphael Minder's The Struggle for Catalonia, Hurst & Co., £15.99



Good journalism is something that is becoming that rare thing, so when a fine piece of journalism is published we should celebrate. Raphael Minder, the New York Times’s Spanish correspondent, has achieved that with “The Struggle for Catalonia.” This is real journalism from someone who travelled the length and breadth of Catalonia, to elsewhere in Spain and Europe to try and find out what was driving support for Catalan independence and what was driving the resistance of the Spanish government to that.


In his travels he meets some marvellous characters who bring Catalan society to life, and gets the thoughts of politicians, chefs, young people and all sorts of other people. If nothing else you will discover much about Catalonia by reading this book. It is also scrupulously fair in ensuring the views of those who support independence are matched by those who oppose it, and in giving voice to those who find difficulty in making up their minds.


But at the end he points out that to understand what is going on in Catalonia you have to experience the Diada, the Catalan National Day celebrations held each September in Barcelona, and asks why so few Spanish politicians have done that. It’s a good question on which to end a good book.


Chris Bambery, Public Point of Inquiry for the APPG on Catalonia



Scottish government supports Catalonia's right to decide its future


MercoPress, 18 September 2017


The people of Catalonia should determine its future, the Scottish government has said. The region's government has insisted a referendum on independence from Spain will go ahead on 1 October. Madrid has vowed to block the vote, saying it is unconstitutional.

Commenting on the ongoing dispute, Scotland's External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The decision over Catalonia's future direction is a matter for the people who live there.”


Read the full article HERE



Spanish police confiscate Catalan referendum material

Al Jazeera, 18 September 2017


Spanish police have seized more than a million pro-referendum posters and pamphlets in Catalonia, according to government officials.

Authorities claimed the 1.3 million prints, which included about 700,000 leaflets promoting a "yes" vote in the region's planned vote on independence, from a warehouse near Barcelona on Sunday.

"The proceedings were carried out during the morning of today [Sunday] and are the result of investigations carried out by the Civil Guard of Catalonia for the localisation of materials that promote the referendum suspended by the Constitutional Court," the interior ministry said in a statement.

Read the full article HERE


Catalonia asks Spain's PM, king for dialogue on independence vote

Reuters, 15 September 2017


Catalonia’s governor and the mayor of its biggest city Barcelona have appealed to Spain’s premier and king for dialogue to resolve an increasingly bitter tussle over a planned vote on regional independence, a letter showed on Friday.

Authorities in the wealthy northeastern region have pledged to call Catalans to the polls on Oct. 1, in defiance of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has declared the referendum illegal.

The appeal comes at the end of a week in which the state prosecutor summoned mayors for questioning, and Catalonia rebelled against Madrid’s fiscal rules.


Governor Carles Puigdemont and Mayor Ada Colau said in the letter addressed to Rajoy and also sent to King Felipe that they wanted support from the Spanish state for the referendum.

Read the full story HERE



Spain plays cat and mouse as Catalan vote looms

James Badcock, BBC News, 15 September 2017


The Spanish government is intent on defeating Catalonia's plans to hold an independence referendum, but it wants to avoid heavy-handed methods.

The 1 October ballot has been suspended by the constitutional court in Madrid while judges consider its legality.

While ruling out the use of the military and imposing direct rule from Madrid over the autonomous region (possible under the constitution), Spain's government is doing all it can behind the scenes to prevent the ballot boxes from being put out for Catalans to vote.

It's a game of cat and mouse.

Read the full story HERE




King and PM tell Catalans to ignore ‘unconstitutional’ vote


Margaret Neighbour, The Scotsman, 14 September 2017


Spain’s prime minister has joined with the king to urge the people of Catalonia not to take part in a planned referendum on the region’s independence that has been branded “unconstitutional”. The move comes as Spain’s state prosecutor threatened to arrest 712 Catalan mayors who are co-operating with the scheduled poll. The pro-independence coalition governing Catalonia says the 1 October ballot will go ahead despite a ruling by Spain’s Constitutional Court suspending the vote until judges can rule on its legality. Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy is fighting to stop the ballot and he appealed to Catalans to ignore calls from independence supporters to turn out. 

Read more at:



Catalonia: More than 700 mayors summoned to court



BBC News, 13 September 2017

Spain's public prosecutor has summoned more than 700 Catalan mayors to appear for questioning over their support for a banned independence referendum.

Jose Manuel Maza said that any of the municipal leaders who agreed to help stage next month's vote should be arrested if they fail to appear.

Prosecutors earlier ordered the seizure of ballot papers and voting materials.

Catalonia's vote on breaking away from Spain is deemed illegal and has been suspended by the constitutional court.


Read the full article HERE



Police ordered to seize ballot boxes ahead of Catalonia vote


Spanish Guardia Civil agents entering a print shop in search of independence referendum material


The Independent, 13 September 2017

Prosecutors in Catalonia on Tuesday ordered police to seize ballot boxes, election flyers and any other item that could be used in a banned independence referendum called by the Spanish region’s separatist executive.

The vote is set for October 1 and the northeastern region’s separatists are determined to go ahead with it despite Madrid’s refusal and a court ban, as the struggle between Catalonia and Spain’s central government escalates.

On Tuesday, the chiefs of the Guardia Civil and National Police forces, and of the Mossos d’Esquadra — a regional squad controlled by the Catalan government — were called to the prosecutor’s office in Barcelona.

They were then ordered to take action against authorities, civil servants or individuals “to avoid offences being committed,” prosecutors said in a statement after the meeting.

Read the full article HERE



George Kerevan: The treatment of Catalonia shows the spirit of Franco still lives on in Spain



DEMOCRACY is dying in Spain. Perhaps it was never really there. Under the thin veneer of European-style respect for democratic rights and popular sovereignty, the heirs of Franco are attempting to crush once again the desire of the people of Catalonia to run their own affairs and speak their own unique tongue without dictation from Madrid. As in 1936, when army officers rose in rebellion against the elected Republican administration and the autonomous Generalitat government in Barcelona, Spain’s right-wing Popular Party government is using force to block the Catalan independence referendum scheduled for Sunday October 1.


Read the full article HERE



What Spain Has To Lose From Catalan Independence



Arnau Busquets Guàrdia, Politico, 11 September 2017

Spain has a lot to lose if Catalan secessionists are successful in their breakaway plan.

Catalonia makes up only 6 percent of the country’s territory and 16 percent of its population, but it accounts for a fifth of economic output, a quarter of exports, over half of new startup investment in 2016 — and nearly a third of Spain’s Rio Olympic medalists.

Independence supporters will gather Monday in Barcelona to celebrate the Catalan national day, ahead of the October 1 referendum on secession called by the regional government in defiance of Madrid and the Constitutional Court. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has pledged to do everything in its power to stop the vote from happening.

While a majority of Catalans don’t see independence as the ideal way forward, Madrid’s unwillingness to negotiate could still result in a secessionist victory in the knife-edge referendum.


Read the full article HERE



Catalonia: Mayors Sign Decree Approving Independence Vote, Defying Spanish Government



Watch the full report HERE



Spain Catalonia: Court blocks independence referendum


BBC News 8 September2017

Spain's constitutional court has suspended a referendum law passed by the Catalan parliament to hold a vote on independence next month.

The court says it will consider whether the law breaches Spain's constitution.

Despite the decision, Catalan leaders say the vote will be held as planned on 1 October.

PM Mariano Rajoy said he had appealed to the court to declare the referendum illegal, describing the law as an "intolerable act of disobedience".

Read full article HERE



Getting right to the heart of Catalonia’s struggle for independence



Greg Russell, The National, 5 September 2017

CATALONIA’S ongoing battle for independence, or at least the right to hold a referendum without the threat of legal action from Spain’s central government, is a subject close to heart of The National and a subject I have written about quite extensively in these pages.

However, I was honoured and surprised to be asked last month if I’d like to be a panellist on a debate about the October 1 referendum in Portcullis House at Westminster, hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Catalonia and organised by the UK Delegation of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC).

Read the full article HERE



Barcelona attack: Thousands of Muslims march against terrorism

Samuel Osborne, The Independent, 24 August 2017

Thousands of Muslims joined vigils in Barcelona to condemn terrorism and show their support for the victims of the recent attacks.

More than 2,500 people from different communities gathered close to Las Ramblas in central Barcelona, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

Last Thursday, a van was driven into a crowd on the busy street, killing 13, before a bloody getaway in which a man was stabbed to death. A later attack in the seaside town of Cambrils killed one. 

The crowd held placards reading "We are also victims," "Terrorism has no religion," and "We are all Barcelona, not terrorisms."

At the front of the procession was a large green banner reading: "We are Muslims, not terrorists."

Many took to the streets to chant "not in my name."

Representatives from the Islamic communities read a statement rejecting the attacks and expressing their support for the victims and the wounded in Catalan, Spanish and Arabic. 

The procession was joined by the Catalan president, Carme Forcadell, the secretary for external and institutional relations, Raul Romeva, and the first deputy mayor of Barcelona, Gerardo Pisarello, as well as members of the Catalan parliament and Barcelona City Council. 

Read the full article and watch the video HERE:





‘Some students don’t even know who Franco was’ says 97-year-old Civil War veteran


Migeul Morera with the flag of the Francesc Macia Column


Alan Ruiz Terol, Catalan News, 20 July 2017


They were subsequently sent to three concentration camps, and Morera would have probably died of typhus if it hadn’t been for his father’s stubbornness. “The doctor said I would not last more than two days, but my father managed to get me some medicine. He gave me life again,” he says.

Morera belongs to the so-called ‘Lleva del Biberó’ (Draft of the Baby’s Bottle), a group of 30,000 men born in 1920 and 1921 who were called up by the Spanish Republic to fight on the Aragon front. Morera, one of the few still alive, says the years of their youth were stolen.

And yet, Morera has no hard feelings about his time at the front. “What I suffered during the war I don’t blame on anyone because I was a volunteer and I looked for it,” he says. But what came next was different: “I do not forgive, and I will never forgive, all the repression that came after the war.”


Read the full article HERE


Written answer to Lord Wigley's Written Question QWA HL476 received from Baroness Goldie, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Baroness Goldie, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL476):

Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any representations to the government of Spain concerning judicial independence in Spain in relation to the rights of citizens in Catalonia, including those who also have UK citizenship. (HL476)

Tabled on: 04 July 2017

Baroness Goldie:

We have not made any representations to the Spanish government on this issue. The UK is clear that questions related to Catalonia are a matter for the Government and people of Spain, and there needs to be respect for the laws and Constitution of Spain. As for UK citizens in Catalonia, they enjoy the same constitutional rights as UK citizens in any other autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain.

Date and time of answer: 19 Jul 2017 at 11:56.



Girona is Catalonia's hidden gem



 Marc Abbott, The Independent, 19 July 2017


Although this compact medieval fortress city is positioned at the junction of several waterways, it is the River Onyar that bisects it, creating a left and right bank. The right bank is home to the charming and incredibly popular old town, typified by narrow walkways, stone steps and cobbled streets. On the left bank you will find more affordable accommodation and also the popular bar and restaurant area of Placa de la Independencia


Read the full article HERE



Rajoy is cutting it fine with his Catalonian intervention

David Gardner, Financial Times, 18 July 2017


The cliché “better late than never” was not coined for politics, where timing can be everything. So when the leaders of Spain’s two post-Franco parties of central government — the centre-right Popular party (PP), currently in power, and the opposition Socialists (PSOE) — propose alternatives to the secession of Catalonia 10 weeks before the separatist Catalan autonomous government holds a referendum on independence, there are questions about timing and substance.


Mariano Rajoy, prime minister and leader of a minority PP government, said in Bilbao recently that the path forward for Catalans is the Basque way. Unlike the Catalans, the Basques collect their own taxes. “What the government of Spain and the Basque government are doing today is what should be done,” Mr Rajoy declared.


Fiscal autonomy on Basque lines was, in fact, what the government in Barcelona sought from Madrid in September 2012. Mr Rajoy refused even to discuss it. Millions poured on to the streets of Catalonia and separatism went mainstream.


Read the full article HERE


Resurrecting Ancient Wines That Can Survive Climate Change


The Atlantic, 17 July 2017


The Spanish region of Catalonia is proud of its traditions. The official language, Catalan, has thrived for centuries, despite the establishment of Spanish as the rest of the country’s official language in the 1700s. Castells, or adults and children climbing on each other’s shoulders to form human towers, continues to be a popular activity at festivals. And in Vilafranca del Penedès, an hour outside of Barcelona, the local winery Bodegas Torres is researching and rediscovering wine varieties long thought to be extinct.


It just so happens that many of these revived regional varieties thrive in hotter, drier climates. So Bodegas Torres is regrowing these ancestral vines to assuage the wine industry’s looming climate-change crisis.


Read the full article HERE



Spain’s constitutional enigma keeps Catalan separatists guessing


Guy Hedgecoe, Irish Times, 17 July 2017

El País newspaper has labelled it “the biggest taboo in the constitution” and the Basque Nationalist Party has called for it to be eliminated altogether. One official in the Catalan regional government has even been quoted as comparing its use to “opening Indiana Jones’s Ark of the Covenant” and describing it as “dangerously unpredictable”.

All were referring to a few lines in the Spanish constitution – article 155 – that have been hogging the headlines recently and which, many believe, could be the difference between Catalonia staging a rogue referendum on independence from Spain or not.


Read the full article HERE



Spanish Guardia Civil demands referendum event documents from TNC


N.Stokes and K.Schreiber, Catalan News, 13 July 2017


Spanish Guardia Civil demands referendum event documents from TNC



The Together for Yes (JxSí) pro-independence party is “outraged” by the order to send Guard Civil police into the National Theater of Catalonia (TNC in Catalan) on Thursday, to seize documents relating to the event held last week to present the referendum bill. On his Twitter account, party president, Jordi Turull, called the visit by the Spanish police “outrageous”, after the TNC alerted the party to the police visit. eks of September, prior to 1 October referendum.


However later in the day, Catalan People’s Party leader, Xavier García Albiol, said he was surprised by the JxSí reaction and called the police visit the “normal” reaction of a democratic state when “someone attempts to carry out a political coup.” The PPC leader added that the Guardia Civil officers did not visit the TNC “on a whim” but because “there was a court order that demanded they gather information."


Sources from the TNC told ACN that Guardia Civil officers arrived at the theater between 10 and 11am, with a court order demanding documentation relating to the event held in the venue on July 4. However, the police officers left without the information they demanded, and the TNC says that the event was carried out under the venue’s normal rental policy, along with the other 72 other events held there in the past year.


Read the full article HERE



Catalonia: No referendum for independence, Rajoy says


ANSA Med, 12 July 2017


Spain's conservative premier, Mariano Rajoy, on Wednesday told reporters at the Congress of deputies that a referendum on Catalonia's independence scheduled for October 1 by Catalan separatist president, Carles Puigdemont, ''will not take place''. ''I am telling everybody: stay calm, the government knows exactly what it must do''.


Rajoy has repeatedly described the referendum as ''illegal'' and against the Spanish constitution approved in 1978 during the transition phase between the dictatorship and democracy and has promised to halt it.

Puigdemont continues to vow that the referendum will take place as scheduled on October 1. The decree to approve it has not been signed yet to prevent Madrid from appealing the move at the Constitutional court.


Rajoy on Wednesday insisted that ''in no way'' he will allow the Catalan referendum to take place.


Read the full article HERE



Catalonia plans to hold an independence vote whether Spain lets it or not


12 July, The Economist


The production was as dramatic as any other the National Theatre in Barcelona has seen. There, on July 4th, the president of Catalonia’s government, Carles Puigdemont, announced plans to hold a unilateral referendum on independence from Spain on October 1st. The draft law he unveiled says that, whatever the turnout, if those voting in favour outnumber those against, within 48 hours the Catalan parliament will declare independence. To Mr Puigdemont’s supporters, this is a national epic. To Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s conservative prime minister, it is “authoritarian delirium”. He is determined that it should not take place.


Mr Puigdemont’s push follows five years of secessionist agitation in Catalonia, one of Spain’s richest regions, whose 7.5m people make up 16% of its population. Separatism was fuelled partly by the Constitutional Tribunal’s rejection of parts of a new statute that would have granted the region more autonomy. But the main drivers were nationalist politicians in Barcelona who blamed euro-crisis austerity on Madrid. In a regional election in 2015, parties campaigning for independence won, but only just: the ruling coalition got 48% of the vote but 53% of the seats in the parliament.


Mr Puigdemont invokes “the legitimate right to self-determination of a thousand-year-old nation”.


Read the full article HERE:




Catalonia faces obstacles to its independence dreams


Saim Saeed, Politico, 12 July 2017


Catalonia’s bid for independence continues to dominate headlines. El País ran a story on infighting between the regional government’s ruling pro-independence coalition. It reported that Vice President Oriol Junqueras, of the Catalan Republican Left party, refused President Carles Puigdemont’s offer to coordinate the independence referendum scheduled for October 1. The report implied that party workers are afraid of recriminations from Madrid, which has promised to take legal action if Catalonia goes ahead with the referendum. El Mundo reported that administrative workers and bureaucrats “are rebelling against the illegal referendum.” Right-leaning La Razón reported that Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez will appease Catalonia, promising “more money and constitutional reform” to head off the impending vote. ABC railed against the Madrid mayor’s decision not to fly a banner commemorating the 20th anniversary of the murder of Miguel Ángel Blanco (a politician who belonged to the ruling conservative Popular Party) at the hands of the Basque separatist group ETA. It accused Mayor Manuela Carmena of the “absurd politicization of a true symbol for all victims of terrorism.”



Read the full article HERE



We should look to Catalonia in a spirit of solidarity


Professor Joe O'Farrell, Letters, The Herald, 12 July 2017


READING Kenny MacAskill's timorous wee article about Catalonia (“Why Scotland will not get involved in Catalonia’s fight”, The Herald, July 13) brought back a memory of once walking down the Ramblas in Barcelona and seeing Scottish banners flying over a stall. The people were collecting signatures to request some authority, not necessarily sporting, to recognise Catalonia's status as a nation by allowing it to have its own national football team, like Scotland.


Read the full letter from Professor Farrell HERE



Why Scotland won't get involved in Catalonia's fight



Kenny MacAskill, The Herald, 11 July 2017


FIFTY years ago this month French President,General De Gaulle, stood on the balcony of Montreal City Hall’s and shouted “Vive Le Quebec Libre” to the delight of Quebec nationalists but the consternation of Canadian officials. Prime Minister Lester Pearson was incandescent and General De Gaulle cut short his visit.


It’s inconceivable that Justin Trudeau, the current Canadian PM, would have commented on Scottish independence in such a way when he was in Edinburgh seeing the Queen last week. His father, Pierre Trudeau, was Canadian Justice Minister back then. Incidents such as De Gaulle’s are rare indeed, going against the normal rules of international diplomacy.


Read the full article HERE



Catalonia vs Spain: a battle that neither side can win

Matthew Parris, 8 July, The Spectator

The October referendum on Catalan independence could become a tragic mess

If David Cameron seeks any testament to his handling of Britain’s difficulties with Scottish separatism, the mess that Spain is making of a very comparable demand from Catalan separatists could stand as grisly evidence of how not to do it.

The government of Catalonia in Barcelona has defied Madrid by announcing an October referendum on independence. The Spanish government calls the referendum illegal and threatens to suspend Catalonia’s autonomous administration should it go ahead, if necessary by force. ‘Send in the tanks’ is the shorthand for Madrid’s apparent threat, and somebody is going to have to climb down or the prospects are dire.

Read the full article here:


Catalan Independence Movement Poses Dilemma For SNP

Lesley Riddoch, The Scotsman, 10 July 2017


Madrid or Barcelona?

It’s a dilemma usually faced by holidaymakers. But the un-official Catalan independence referendum set for October 1st means Scottish politicians are getting involved too.


19 MSPs have backed a Holyrood motion backing the poll – now the Scottish Government’s been urged to choose sides and is resisting the temptation.

A spokesperson said they would congratulate the Catalans if they won, adding “these are matters for the people and the governments of Catalonia and Spain


Read the full article HERE


Spain's Looming Constitutional Crisis: Why America Should Care


These are uncertain times for the European Union. The economic and political consequences of Brexit are still unforeseen. The rise of far-right populist parties in several countries—even if contained, as France most recently has shown—is normalizing extremism in political discourse.

Secessionism is another reason of uncertainty. Scottish nationalists lost the independence referendum in 2014, when 55 percent of voters opted to stay within the United Kingdom, but Brexit has spawned talks of a second independence vote in overwhelmingly pro-EU Scotland. The stakes also run high in Catalonia, where the region’s pro-independence government set October 1 as the date for a referendum on independence from Spain—a referendum the central government considers illegal. Madrid’s reluctance to negotiate with Barcelona is leading the country to an unprecedented constitutional crisis.


The EU has repeatedly discouraged the secessionist aspirations of Catalonia and Scotland by claiming that, in case of independence, both would lose their EU membership and be forced to apply from scratch. Like the EU, the United States has insisted that the conflict between Barcelona and Madrid is a Spanish internal issue and that it is not the role of foreign countries to lobby for Madrid to open constitutional negotiations with Barcelona. In 2015, then President Barack Obama expressed the U.S. position when he stated that the United States was “deeply committed to maintaining a relationship with a strong and unified Spain.” The Trump administration has yet to weigh in on the issue.


Madrid’s hardline opposition toward demands to expand Catalonia’s autonomy is a major reason why support for independence has skyrocketed in recent years. Catalonia comprises one sixth of Spain’s population and represents around a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. Many Catalans believe that the region contributes too much to the central government’s budget and doesn’t get enough investment in return, particularly when it comes to public infrastructure like rail and roads.

Most importantly, the region has its own different language—Catalan—and many people share a strong sense of a differentiated national identity from the rest of Spain. It is the denial of the legitimacy of this unique Catalan identity, as seen in Madrid’s efforts to diminish the current role of Catalan as the main language in schools, that has radicalized many Catalans previously uninterested in independence.

In the United Kingdom, demands by the people of Scotland for a referendum on independence led to a negotiated solution between London and Edinburgh that resulted in an orderly referendum whose result was accepted by all parties. By contrast, in spite of the growth of support for independence in Catalonia, the Spanish government has not made a single move to discuss how to hold a vote legally or devolve more power to Barcelona.

Unsurprisingly, the central government’s inability to compromise pushed even more Catalans to embrace independence, with support jumping from 15 percent in 2010 to around 50 percent in 2015. Pro-independence parties ran on a platform of moving toward independence if they obtained a majority in the 2015 regional election, but even though they secured a majority of seats in parliament, they just got 48 percent the vote.

Lacking a clear democratic mandate to declare independence, the Catalan nationalists’ next move was to call for a referendum on the issue. The referendum is being cast as the ultimate practice of democracy: the way for Catalans to decide whether to be part of Spain or not is through a vote on the issue. However, if the vote proceeds on October 1, it would be unconstitutional according to the Spanish government because the constitution establishes the “indissoluble unity of the Spanish Nation.” Madrid insists that the people of Catalonia can’t vote on independence by themselves because this decision belongs to the Spanish electorate as a whole, and that there can be no democracy without the rule of law.


Read the full article here:


Catalan independence: a ‘delirious project’

Spanish media reacts to the Catalan government’s ‘self-determination law.’

Saim Saeed, 7 July, POLITICO

Secession is in the air as the regional government of Catalonia released a draft of the law that will govern the independence vote it plans to hold on October 1. That Catalonia would declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a Yes vote — without a minimum participation threshold — was among the most eye-catching of the draft’s provisions. Madrid has promised to do everything in its power to prevent the vote, which it — and the courts — deem illegal.


The Spanish press was flush with Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont’s announcement and much of it was, unsurprisingly, unimpressed. El País ran an editorial titled “Fraudulent law,” in which it accused the Catalan government of eroding democracy and essential freedoms. Conservative outlet ABC called it “a delirious law that tramples on the rights, guarantees and liberties of Catalans themselves.” Another conservative paper La Razón called the law “A blow to democracy.” Catalonia-based La Vanguardia published an editorial calling the law “politically and legally weak.”

Read the full article here:


Spanish court bans Catalonia funding independence vote out of budget

Saim Saeed, 6 July, POLITICO


Referendum ‘involves reconsidering the very foundation of the current constitutional order,’ court said.

Spain’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled various provisions in the Catalan budget are illegal if they are used to finance the region’s planned October 1 independence referendum.

Any funds allocated to financing “the political future of Catalonia” are unconstitutional and void, the court ruled. But it acknowledged it was possible financing certain electoral processes and “non-referendum consultations and citizen participation” would be legal.

“The people of Catalonia are not entitled to sovereign power that is exclusive of the nation constituted in the state,” according to the ruling.

The ruling sided with the Madrid government, which strictly opposes the region’s push for independence and challenged Catalonia’s budget in court, arguing provisions totaling €6.2 million will be used illegally. The government argued Spain’s constitution does not allow secession.

Madrid also took exception to a provision in the Catalan budget that allots “the necessary resources” to “the referendum process about the political future of Catalonia.”

An independence referendum, the court ruled, “involves reconsidering the very foundation of the current constitutional order established by the will of the sovereign of the Spanish people.”


Read full article here:


Spain PM calls new Catalan secession plans 'authoritarian'

5 July, Associated Press

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday described as "authoritarian delirium" plans by the ruling parties in the northeastern Catalonia region to declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of a promised referendum Oct. 1, if voters say "yes."

Rajoy told a business meeting that Spaniards and Catalans could rest assured that the "confrontational' gestures of the pro-independence parties will never win over the democratic state.

He was speaking a day after Catalonia's governing parties presented details of a proposed law covering the planned referendum. The law says if the "yes" vote wins, independence will be declared within two days regardless of the vote's turnout percentage.

Spain has pledged there will be no referendum because it violates the country's constitution.

Also Wednesday, the Constitutional Court formally ruled that the Catalan government could not use part of its 2017 budget to finance the referendum, following a legal challenge by the Spanish government.

Catalonia and Spain have been at loggerheads for years because of the regional government's plans to hold a secession vote. The government has challenged in the Constitutional Court nearly every measure taken by the Catalan government and has succeeded in blocking most. In addition, prosecutors have opened legal proceedings against several former and current Catalan officials over the issue.

In the promised referendum, Catalans would be asked to answer yes or no to a single question: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?"

Polls consistently show the 7.5 million Catalans are evenly divided on independence, but a majority supports holding a referendum.

The region has failed to win the backing of any major country or international body to hold the vote without Spain's approval.

Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, represents a fifth of Spain's GDP.

Read the full article here:

Splits in Catalonia's pro-independence campaign before key vote

Sam Jones and Patrick Wintour, 5 July, The Guardian


Catalan president criticised after minister sacked for admitting that Spain could block planned referendum on independence


Divisions have emerged within Catalonia’s pro-sovereignty movement after a minister in the regional government was sacked for suggesting that this autumn’s independence referendum would probably not go ahead because of fierce opposition from the Spanish government.

A binding vote on 1 October was announced last month by the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, with voters to be asked: “Do you want Catalonia to be an independent country in the form of a republic?”

The conservative government of Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has vowed to use all the means at its disposal to stop the referendum from taking place, arguing that it would be a clear violation of the country’s constitution.

“To all Catalans, to all Spaniards, I want to tell you to maintain confidence in the future as authoritarian delusions ... will never defeat the serenity and harmony of our democratic state,” he said on Wednesday.

Splits in the movement emerged when Jordi Baiget, the minister for business and knowledge, was sacked by Puigdemont on Monday after deviating from the government line by telling an interviewer: “The [Spanish] state is so strong that we probably won’t be able to hold the referendum.”

The move was condemned by senior members of the Catalan independence movement – including some of those who have been punished by the courts for their part in the symbolic independence referendum held three years ago.


Read the full article here (including an interview with the President of the Catalan Parliament, Ms Carme Forcadell):


Catalonia to declare independence within 48 hours of a yes vote

5 July, The National


THE people of Catalonia will go into their referendum on October 1 knowing that if a majority vote Yes, the Catalan Government will declare independence the following day, as soon as ballot papers are counted.

Gabriela Serra, a member of the pro-independence coalition that governs Catalonia, said yesterday: “If the majority of votes are for creating a Catalan republic, obviously independence will have to be declared immediately.”

Serra was speaking as the Cat- alan Government formally began the process of extracting the region from the Spanish legal system, with the ruling coalition set to vote through the changes in the regional parliament next month.


Read the full article here:


Catalans rile Madrid with 'self-determination law'

Diego Torres, 4 July, POLITICO

Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders stepped up their defiance of Madrid on Tuesday by releasing a draft of the law that will govern the referendum on independence from Spain that they plan to hold on October 1 — a vote the Spanish government is determined to prevent.

Pro-independence forces behind Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made public a draft version of the “self-determination referendum law,” which mandates that if the “Yes” camp carries the day, the Catalan regional parliament will declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of the vote. If “No” wins, new regional elections will be called.


On top of that, the text doesn’t set a minimum threshold for turnout for the referendum to be binding, although the central government maintains it is illegal under any circumstances. In 2014, between 36 percent and 42 percent of Catalan people — depending on whose figures you use — turned out for an informal vote on independence. Eighty percent of participants voted for secession.

“The people of Catalonia are a sovereign subject and as such exercise the right to decide their political status freely and democratically,” reads the text — in direct contradiction of the Spanish constitution and the view of the Constitutional Court, both of which only recognize the sovereignty of the whole of the Spanish people.

“This was the announcement of a coup d’état,” Xavier García Albiol, leader of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party in Catalonia, told reporters. Other opposition groups in the Catalan assembly, where secessionist forces have an absolute majority of seats, also criticized the bill. Rajoy’s cabinet has vowed to prevent the October 1 ballot by all legal means at its disposal, and a majority of Spanish political parties also oppose the vote.

A final version of the referendum law is expected to be passed by the Catalan regional parliament later in the summer, which is likely to prompt a legal response from Madrid.

Puigdemont, who was expected to comment on the draft law at a political event in Barcelona later on Tuesday, signaled his determination to push ahead with the referendum by purging a regional cabinet minister who dared to express doubts about the feasibility of the ballot.

Read the full article here:


Catalonia’s referendum exposes a divided Spain

Tobias Buck, 29 June, Financial Times


Oriol Junqueras is a big man with big hands, and right now it is his hands that are doing the talking. Again and again, he threads the fingers of his left hand into the fingers of his right hand, pushing hard and turning his palms inside out. It looks laborious, and it is meant to be. Junqueras is using his fingers to tell a centuries-old story of conflict, nationalism and identity: one hand is Catalonia, the other is Spain. And, hard as he might try, one will never fit into the other. “This is a very old phenomenon,” he says. “These are two political communities that have great difficulty finding one another. Neither recognises itself in the other. They have different priorities. They have different visions.”

If Junqueras has his way, they may also — sooner rather than later — have different states. The Catalan politician is at the forefront of a campaign to lead his homeland out of the union with Spain and towards independence. The Catalan regional government, of which he is a senior member, has vowed to hold a referendum on secession on October 1. The vote is intended to show Madrid — and the world — that the region’s 7.5 million people desire and deserve a state of their own. 

Catalonia has been part of the Spanish state for centuries, yet many Catalans regard themselves as a nation apart, with their own language, culture and history. The region is one of the country’s 17 “autonomous communities”, with powers over matters such as education, healthcare and welfare, and a police force of its own. Despite occasional rumblings of discontent, the arrangement was, until recently, broadly accepted by Catalans and Spaniards alike.  To Junqueras and his allies, however, the two never truly belonged together. “Catalonia wants to decide its own future — its political future. And it is faced with a state that says: ‘You can’t take those decisions. We will take them for you,’” he says. “So this is ultimately a question of democratic dignity, and of political dignity.”


Read the full article here:

SNP MSP lodges motion in support of Catalan independence

14 June, The Scotsman


While there was no mention of Scottish indpendence at the first meeting of Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet following last week’s bruising election, the dream of self-determination lives on elsewhere for SNP members. Gordon MacDonald, MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands, has submitted a motion in the Scottish Parliament welcoming the recent decision by the devolved Catalan Government to hold an independence referendum on October 1.


The controversial announcement, which is fiercely opposed by the Spanish Government in Madrid, is the culmination of a long-running campaign for the region on the north-east extremity of the Iberian peninsula to become an independent state separate from Spain. MacDonald’s motion called for MSPs to welcome the Catalan referendum announcement, adding that they should agree with the Catalan president’s claim “that all citizens should participate in the referendum about the future of the country as it is ‘an inalienable.

right’.”To date, 16 MSPS have backed the motion.


Read the full article here:


Catalan culture fills London’s Borough Market on Sant Jordi

Sara Prim, Catalan News Agency, 23 April 2017


Sant Jordi is not only both Catalonia’s and England’s patron saint but also one of the Catalans’ most beloved traditions, which has gained International popularity and coincides with UNESCO World Book Day on the 23rd of April. This year, it was exported to a record 50 countries across the world but has in London one of its most consolidated celebrations. For the last seven years, iconic Borough Market, located at the center British Capital, has welcomed Sant Jordi and adopted its stalls selling books and roses. However, the celebration has been enriched with exhibition of Catalan culture such as gastronomy, traditional dances and one of the most applauded, traditional human towers performed by local group ‘Castellers of London’.


Read the full article here


A Catalan Tartan


Did you know that a Catalan tartan was designed for the 1992 Olympics? Thanks again to Geoff Cowling for this fasciniating piece of information. Its entry in the Scottish Register of Tartans is available HERE


A Catalan Town Modelled on Paisley


Geoff Cowling, former British Consul in Barcelona, kindly sent us information regarding another close link between Scotland and Catalonia.
"The small Catalan textile town of Borgonya built was by Coats Viyella at the end of C19 to a design lifted straight from Coats' Paisley complex using hydro power from the Ter river. Since the closure of the factory some time ago, the rows of solidly built "Scottish Catalan" terraced workers houses have been sold off, gentrified and used a...s second homes. Some are lavishly decorated and surrounded by Mediterranean plants and foliage which look weirdly out of place in a Scottish environment. The streets bear names such as Caller Edimburgo, Caller Escosia etc.. Borgonya comes under the municipality of Torelló. I recall the then lady mayor was very enthusiastic about developing further links with Scotland. During my time as Consul General, I tried to interest Scottish TV to produce a programme but to no effect. Perhaps the APPGC could give this a boost . As a flavour, these are some links from the Catalan internet showing pictures & photos of the Coats Borgonya factory and houses."



Interview With Sergi Marcen


The Scottish newspaper, The National, carried an interview with Sergi Marcen, the head of the Catalan Government's Delegation to the UK and Ireland, which you can read here



President Puigdemont: "Europe must be part of the solution"

  • The President, the Vice President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Catalan Government explain the Catalan referendum in a conference held at the European Parliament
  • President Puigdemont reaffirms the Catalan Government’s commitment to negotiate with the Spanish state and assures that the issue at stake “is not independence but democracy”
  • Vice President Junqueras: “Democracy is the best way to ensure efficient economic policies and greater social justice
  • Minister Romeva assures that Europe “is laying its own future on the line and “eventually it will have to take sides”


APPG for Catalonia


c/o Hywel Williams MP

Houses of Parliament





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