Farage: Leaders support Madrid because Catalan separatists dislike EU

UKIP's Nigel Farage said that the Spanish government will have to offer something "very impressive" to stop the momentum of the Catalan separatists. [European Parliament]

Nigel Farage is one of the very few voices to speak in favour of the Catalan independence movement. After the EU leaders’ strong backing for Mariano Rajoy at the European Council, Farage says the EU supported the idea of Scottish independence but is wary of Catalonia because “Catalonia’s separatists don’t like the EU”.

Farage, a vocal supporter of Brexit and a harsh critic of the EU, also said separatism in Catalonia could only grow and the region is “more likely than not” to become independent.

Nigel Farage is an MEP from the UK Independence Party (UKIP). He was the leader of the party until last year.

Farage spoke with Euractiv’s Jorge Valero.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker spoke about the risk of Balkanisation in Europe if Catalonia becomes an independent state. What do you think?

Mr Juncker, all of Europe supported Scotland. They would have loved Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom. They encouraged it as much as the could. Why? Because Alex Salmond from the Scottish National Party (SNP) is a European federalist. The difference with Catalonia, of course, is that the Catalan separatists don’t like the EU and that is why they are behaving the way they are. I have never been a supporter in the past but…

But the Catalan separatists love the EU!

Well, the point is this. If you believe in the principles of the modern world, ever since the UN charter, there is a principle of national self-determination. So the Catalans have every right to express their opinion, just as the Scots have every right to express their opinion. The Scots didn’t separate from the UK. But I think, the lesson from history is the way the British dealt with the Irish separatists a hundred years ago.

The Brits dealt with it badly and that stoked the fire of Irish nationalism. I think that is exactly what is happening here. The Spanish government’s behaviour makes it difficult to even think Spain is a modern democracy and it is being supported by these people. As far as the EU is concerned, any idea this is about peace and friendship went out the window when unnecessary force has been used. I would have thought that the Catalan separatists have been given a massive boost in the last few weeks.

For any Brit, parliament is the most important institution. Do you think it is still possible to find a solution within the parliament and the legal order for Catalonia?

It should be. But when you use violence against your own people, it is quite difficult to win back good will. There may have been a solution of more and deeper autonomy [for Catalonia]. To stop the momentum of the Catalan separatist movement, the Spanish government is going to have to do something very impressive.

Taking your crystal ball, and in light of the recent developments, what do you predict for the region?

I would have thought that the separatist movement can only grow.

Do you think, down the road, they will declare independence or they may become an independent state?

I would say it is more likely than not.