10 October 2017
Catalonia: EU regions can help build bridges to establish a political dialogue

Catalonia: EU regions can help build bridges to establish a political dialogue

Plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

CoR members gathering at their plenary session today held a debate on the Spanish crisis following the controversial Catalan independence "referendum".

​Speaking on behalf of the CoR PES Group, Olga Zrihen, Member of the Regional Parliament of Wallonia (PES/Belgium), stressed that "what is at stake is the survival of the democratic system, which must not be jeopardized under any circumstances. Even if the EU does not have any legal competence to interfere in this conflict, many European regions have close ties with Spain and its regions and want to help build bridges. Politically speaking, we therefore cannot be satisfied with an ostrich policy. Dialogue must remain one of our levers of action also at EU level". 

"At the same time, it also is in our interest as local and regional authorities that the situation in Catalonia does not become the pretext for a recentralization in Europe, which in the context of the current debate on the future of  EU structural funds would be fatal", she added. 

She was joined in her call by PES member, Ximo Puig i Ferrer, President of the Regional Government of Valencia, who emphasized that "40 years ago we demonstrated in the streets for freedom and democracy. Violence has never solved any political problem. Only through peaceful dialogue can we overcome this economic, social and emotional fracture and continue living together and moving forward as a whole". 

The Socialists in Catalonia and in the rest of Spain have been calling for many months and years for the opening of both the legal and political channels for dialogue. Spanish socialists have succeeded in establishing a Parliamentary Committee for the study and modernisation of the Spanish territoria​​l model, recently approved in the Spanish Parliament.