De Gucht: "Europe say something about the Catalan issue”

The former European Commissioner Karel De Gucht (Flemish liberal) has said in an interview that the EU can’t no longer say that the Catalan crisis is a an internal Spanish issue. Mr De Gucht also questions the severity of sentences imposed by Spanish courts on those convicted of political crimes. “These are not concurrent with the concept of human rights”.

The conflict between the central government in Madrid and separatist Catalan politicians is worsening.

"Europe must say something”, Mr De Gucht told VRT Radio 1’s morning news a current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’.
"It is too easy to claim that this is an internal Spanish affair”.
"A democracy should also respect a number of rules such as imposing sentences that are in proportion. To be honest it doesn’t seem very democratic too me that sentences of 30 years can be imposed for a crime that is very political in nature.”

Mr De Gucht views the conflict between Madrid and Barcelona as a confrontation between two types of nationalism. “Madrid’s nation-state nationalism and the nationalism of a significant minority of the Catalans”.
"This is a very complex issue however it seems to me that European Commission and maybe even the European Council should make it clear that there are questions about the severity of sentences for this kind of offence and that it doesn’t speak for its self that elected politicians should be put into prison”.

Mr De Gucht added that such practices are not part “of the way a democracy functions”.

Although, Mr De Gucht doesn’t believe that Belgium should go in guns blazing, he does belief that our government should take a position on the Catalan issue.

"But if Minister Jambon feels that he should say something on the issue that I can only say that I agree with him”.