On 9 November, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders met with Spanish unionist and far-right organization Societat Civil Catalana (SCC), according to the European Commission’s spokesperson for Justice, Christian Wigand, who stated that the meeting took place at the request of SCC. He added that they discussed the political situation in Catalonia as well as the Catalan language school system, currently under attack by the Spanish authorities.
When asked about the far-right ideology of SCC, Wigand justified the meeting by stating that “our door is always open and it is important for the European Commission to establish relations with the civil society and listen to different points of view”. In this line and regarding the Commissioner’s willingness to meet with Catalan civil society, ANC President Elisenda Paluzie has addressed a letter to the Commissioner requesting a meeting to offer the point of view of “the peaceful and democratic Catalan movement for self-determination and independence, to relate the repressive actions by the Spanish authorities against Catalan activists and elected representatives, and to provide factual information on the benefits of the Catalan language immersion system in education”.
No meetings have been held between the European Commission and Catalan pro-independence civil society representatives since the Catalan independence referendum of 1 October 2017.
The nature of the meeting with SCC was denounced on 10 December Catalan MEPs and exiles Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí and Antoni Comín, who presented a written question to ascertain the purpose of the meeting and the criteria for deciding which organizations are able to meet with the Commissioner. The MEPs highlighted the questionable nature of SCC, created in 2014 to oppose the Catalan independence movement, and founded and financed by Spanish politicians and companies in order to create the appearance of a popular mobilization against the independence of Catalonia, and also pointed out SCC’s deep and clear ties to the Spanish far-right.
We have asked the @EU_Commission why commissioner @dreynders had the nerve to meet with an extremist anti-Catalan organization with ties to the far right. After years of repeating the “internal affair” tune with regard to Catalonia, this is shocking to say the least. pic.twitter.com/BBKxWLBQIJ
— Clara Ponsatí (@ClaraPonsati) December 10, 2021
In her letter, Assemblea President Elisenda Paluzie reminds the Commissioner of the international outcry in the face of the Spanish state’s disproportionate police violence against peaceful activists and judicial persecution of Catalan civic and political leaders, as well as activists and public officials, and recalls “the fact that Mr. Jordi Sànchez, the former president of Assemblea, was imprisoned for the role Ms Paluzie now occupies, and that the former president of Assemblea and later Catalan Parliament Speaker Carme Forcadell was imprisoned in relation to the organization of the October 1st, 2017 independence referendum, in her case for allowing a debate in Parliament”.
Paluzie also highlights the fact that the Catalan language immersion system has gained international recognition, as acknowledged by “the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Mr. Fernand de Varennes, who in March 2020 called the Spanish authorities to avoid reducing the amount of teaching in Catalan and to respect the rights of minority languages speakers in Spain”, and that the “Spanish Supreme Court ruling to impose 25% of Spanish language in Catalan schools goes against the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.”
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