Juncker says Catalan split would lead to splintering EU

Source:AFP Published: 2017/10/13 23:13:40

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said on Friday that he did not want Catalonia to become independent, because that would encourage other regions to do the same, making the EU ungovernable.

"If we allow Catalonia - and it is not our business - to separate, others will do the same. I do not want that," Jean Claude Juncker said in a speech at Luxembourg University.

"I wouldn't like a EU in 15 years that consists of some 98 states," he continued. "It's already relatively difficult with 28 and with 27 not easier, but with 98 it would simply be impossible."

Juncker said he was "very worried" about separatist tendencies in Europe and had encouraged Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to ensure the situation did not get out of control.

Referring to Catalan calls for EU mediation, he said the Commission could not mediate if only one side asked it to do so. The EU has said it has confidence in Rajoy to resolve what it sees as an internal issue.

"If the Commission or European Council President [Donald] Tusk were to get involved with only one party asking for mediation, this would lead to a great rejection of the EU,"Juncker said.

Spain warned Friday it could lower its forecast for next year's economic growth if Catalonia's separatist challenge persists, as concern mounts over the financial fallout of the crisis.

The central government has given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont until next Thursday to abandon his push for secession, failing which it may trigger unprecedented constitutional steps that could see Madrid take control of the semi-autonomous region.

Puigdemont's separatist allies pressed him Friday to defy Madrid and declare independence, but with several companies having already left Catalonia, economic pressures are weighing in too for a region that accounts for 19 percent of Spain's GDP.

"If there is no quick solution, we see ourselves having to lower economic forecasts for 2018," deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria warned.

Posted in: EUROPE

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