Mr Puigdemont’s speech was his first act in public since he reported to Belgian police after Spain issued a European arrest warrant against him. Two hundred Catalan mayors, in Brussels to support Catalan independence, welcomed Mr Puigdemont when he entered the hall. They shouted “President” and “Liberty” in Catalan. Several N-VA and Vlaams Belang politicians too attended.
The deposed Catalan leader thanked Flemish nationalists for "their dedication to democracy, their solidarity, friendship and efforts in support of values that are coming under threat in Catalonia but especially in Europe". Mr Puigdemont said that citizens were puzzled by the EU’s failure to respond to abuse. Addressing commission president Juncker he said: “Are you continuing to support Mr Rajoy (the Spanish PM) and his putsch? Europe is better protected by the people who protected the ballot boxes than the police who beat people.”
The Catalan leader accused Spain of maltreating colleagues who are jailed and insisted that Spain should answer to international justice.