Trans-Europe Express: October’s Revolution

Sent out every Friday at noon, Trans-Europe Express gives you an insider's view of the most important coverage from across the EURACTIV media network, its media partners and much more.

Did anyone ever think there was the chance of a revolution happening now, given the state of Western Europe in the 21st century?

Still, October’s events are gradually acquiring all the hallmarks of a full-blown revolutionary insurrection, which is not only sucking in most of the Catalan and Spanish population but is also seriously worrying our European partners.

The European Parliament on Wednesday (4 October) held a debate on the serious situation in Catalonia. The main political groups and the European Commission shared their worries about the direction things are going in, urging the authorities in both Madrid and Barcelona to move to a dialogue in order to prevent a worsening of the situation.

But both Commission VP Frans Timmermans and the leaders of the popular, socialist and liberal groups – the three main political families in the Parliament – made it clear how much responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Catalan authorities, given their decision to ignore court decisions and constitutional mechanisms.

Their pursuit of their independence “roadmap” has been branded by seasoned analysts as inconceivable and unnecessary in the Europe of today.

Timmermans, in particular, was blunt in his defence of the rule of law and denounced any political discourse that is “inspired by populist nationalism that sees democracy as a tool to be used against the rule of law”.

The Dutch official highlighted that it is the duty of every government to enforce the law, which “sometimes requires proportionate force”. Timmermans stressed “proportionate” in his appraisal of the situation.

When all of the factors are taken into account, from aggravating the police to the dissemination of fake photos and videos, as well as a high level of Russian interference on social networks and the harassment of state security forces by young separatists, the supposedly peaceful and spontaneous nature of the pro-independence movement is now doubtful.

Regional elections two years ago saw the Catalan vote extremely divided. The number of votes secured by the pro-independence ‘Junts pel Sí’ movement and the radical Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party totalled 48%.

But the electoral system provided the pro-independence camp with an absolute majority in the regional parliament.

With an electoral base even smaller than in previous regional elections, that left the regional authorities at the mercy of the CUP, an extreme left group that defines itself as anti-capitalist, anti-euro and anti-NATO, launching us down a unilateral and revolutionary road that now worries democrats in Catalonia itself, Spain and wider Europe.

This is a translation of the original Spanish text, which can be accessed here.

The Inside Track

International mediator in Spain. Catalonia is looking for an international mediator who would help build a minimum of “mutual trust” between Madrid and Barcelona, the Catalan Permanent Representative to the EU told EURACTIV.

Poland cries foul. The Commission’s failure to strongly condemn the Spanish government’s crackdown in Catalonia has prompted crumbling in Poland, where officials are accusing the Commission of double standards. The Commission has harshly criticised the Polish government’s interference with the country’s judiciary.

May’s speech marred by mishaps. British Prime Minister Theresa May can’t seem to catch a break. She fell ill ahead of her headline speech at the Conservative Party conference, and was struggling through coughing fits throughout. To make matters worse, a prankster handed her a termination notice while she was speaking, and the set behind her fell apart.

Jamaica in Germany. According to a recent poll 57% of Germans support the idea of Christian Democrats forming a coalition with the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens. Only 26% want a repetition of the ‘grand coalition’ with the Social Democrats.

Russian fighter jets sent to Serbia. This week Russia began shipping secondhand MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia as a gift. As EU accession talks remain stalled, the military cooperation with Russia will exacerbate tensions with the country’s neighbours.

Marathon not a sprint. Serbia’s new prime minister highlighted the progress Serbia has made towards joining the EU but acknowledged that it is not a matter of who manages to join the bloc next.

Austrian election shake-up. Chancellor Christian Kern is battling allegations that his party payed for campaign websites containing xenophobic and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in order to discredit his main challenger, foreign minister Sebastian Kurz, two weeks before the country goes to the polls.

CEU’s spark of hope. The Central European University has signed a memorandum of understanding with Bard College this week in order to “to provide educational activities in New York.” Tensions might break out again, if the Hungarian Government denies its approval.

Czech liberals call for more Europe in election campaign The ANO movement will make the EU part of its campaign in the upcoming election, saying Czech politicians should stop blaming Brussels for their own failures, Martina Dlabajová, a non-party MEP for ANO, told EURACTIV Czech Republic.

Greece’s investment woes continue. Fresh doubt has been thrown on one of the biggest investment plans in Greece, the redevelopment of the old Athens airport in Ellinikon, since the Central Archeological Council (KAS) defined 120 hectares intended for residential construction as an archeological site.

Mélenchon vs the flag. MPs from La France Insoumise, the far-left party of former French presidential candidate Jean Luc Mélenchon, have tabled a measure to ban the EU flag from the French parliament. They want it to be replace by the UN flag.

Views are the author’s.

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