Council of Europe Assembly ‘shocked’ by police violence against Catalan referendum voters


The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) held on Thursday a debate on the “need for a political solution” for Catalonia. Politicians from across Europe and from different political groups admitted they were “shocked” after seeing the Spanish police violence to stop the October 1 referendum. 

Although there were some exceptions, especially amongst Spanish members or representatives from Serbia, most of the politicians taking part in the debate urged “dialogue” and even supported solutions involving “international mediation.”

“Violence cannot be justified and should be condemned. We should urge calm, peace and dialogue,” said British conservative Roger Gale. “We were shocked when we saw the unexpected brutal violence against citizens exercising a fundamental right,” added Dutch politician Tiny Kox, chairman of the Party of the European Left in the PACE. 

Swiss politician Manuel Tornare said “the only solution is a roadmap towards mediation,” while his compatriot Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter said Switzerland’s federal system could become a “model” for Spain. 

From Belgium, Pettra de Sutter said that applying article 155 of the Constitution, which would entail the suspension of Catalonia’s self-government, would be “the worst option”. De Sutter also criticized the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, for his “threatening words” towards Catalan leaders. 

Another Belgian, Piet De Bruyn, insisted that “political problems can only be solved by political means”. “Catalonia has asked for mediation, but unfortunately Spain hasn’t,” he said.

In a previous debate in the assembly, the Council of Europe Secretary General, Thorbjorn Jagland, said that the conflict in Catalonia should be solved “on the basis of the existing Spanish constitution or an amended version of it.” Inasmuch, Jagland refused international mediation and, instead, offered the assistance of the Council of Europe’s expertise in the field of constitutional law.