Friday, October 20, 2017

Catalonia Finds No Friends among EU Leaders

European Union leaders sought to minimize Spain's crisis with Catalonia
European Union leaders sought to minimize Spain's crisis with Catalonia Thursday and avoid encouraging separatists across the bloc, describing Barcelona's secession bid as a domestic issue and declining a mediation role.

Leaders did not hold a discussion of Catalonia's bid to break away from Spain and judged they had nothing to gain by angering Madrid, diplomats said, Reuters reported.

"It is not on our agenda," European Council President Donald Tusk told reporters during the EU summit. "All of us have our own emotions, opinions, assessments but formally speaking there is no space for an EU intervention."

The approach contrasted with EU strategies on almost every other major issue over the past decade, including Greece's financial crash and mass migration flows from Syria. On countless occasions, EU leaders have used late-night summits to press for a common decision or joint policy statement.

"It's an internal Spanish matter," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters, a position echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who held a private meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on the sidelines of the summit.

"He [Macron] has complete confidence in Rajoy to resolve the situation," a French diplomat told Reuters.

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