Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy met with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in Brussels this week.
The meeting with President Puigdemont and other members of the Catalan government came as the Spanish government announced it is withdrawing the European Arrest Warrant against the five exiled leaders.
However, the Spanish national arrest warrant remains in place, meaning it is likely the officials would be arrested if they return to Catalonia. Carthy was joined at the meeting by Martina Anderson MEP.
Speaking from Brussels, Carthy said:
“It was a privilege to be able to meet with the ousted elected leaders of the Catalan government today, including President Carles Puigdemont. Sinn Féin will be fully supporting the mass demonstration planned for this Thursday demanding ‘Europe, wake up!’.
The Sinn Féin MEP described the response of the EU to the Catalan crisis as a “failure of leadership on an unprecedented scale”.
“Every time he is questioned on Catalonia, Commission President Juncker says this is an internal matter for Spain. He even goes beyond that and threatens Catalonia that a new independent state would find itself outside of the EU,” Carthy said.
“In response to the vicious attacks on defenceless people in a member state of the EU on the day of the referendum, Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans appeared before the Parliament to label the vote illegal, and to justify the brutal violence by saying – and I quote – ‘It is a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force’.
“When the Catalan Government declared independence in accordance with the results of the referendum, and the mandate on which it was elected, the Spanish state responded by invoking Article 155, jailing the members of the government, dissolving the elected parliament and pursuing the legitimate President of Catalonia who had sought refuge in Belgium.
“These are the not the actions of a democratic, legitimate government in a European Union that is supposed to be based on the values of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression; these are the actions of an authoritarian regime.
“But the steamrolling of the elected Catalan government was met by the EU’s defence of the Spanish government, and deference to the Spanish position. Now Catalans are entering an election campaign in which some of their candidates and leaders remain behind bars, or outside of Catalonia under the threat of arrest.
“This is a failure of leadership by the Commission on an unprecedented scale, and it undermines the legitimacy and credibility of the entire European Union.
“That is why I am calling on people from across Ireland and Europe to stand in solidarity with the people of Catalonia in this struggle. In the face of such indefensible silence from the EU, we will make our voices heard this Thursday and demand that those in power in Brussels take note.”