“If the ‘yes’ vote for the independence in Catalonia, saw the light, well, we would respect that choice,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, in an interview with Euronews on Thursday. His spokesman was then quick to point out that the referendum is an internal matter for Spain, and Brussels’ opinion on holding the illegal vote in the northeastern region is “whatever the legislature and the Constitutional Court says,” he said today in an interview with Barcelona-based daily La Vanguardia, repeating it to several European media outlets. In other words: Brussels would only respect a yes in the case of a legal referendum. That was and still is Juncker’s opinion, although taken out of context, it may seem otherwise, as reiterated by sources in Brussels.
It is clear that if there is a ‘yes’ to Catalan independence, Catalonia cannot become a member of the EU the next day
A spokesman for the Commission provided clarification: “The decision of the Constitutional Court must be respected, and therefore the outcome of the referendum can only be accepted if that condition is fulfilled.” President Juncker reiterated the Commission's position.
The head of the EU’s executive branch was responding earlier this week to a direct question as to whether or not he would respect the outcome of the poll, saying that the Commission “does not intervene in a country's internal debates when it comes to an acceptable democratic debate.” He added that his position is that “we will abide by what the Constitutional Court says and what the Spanish Parliament decides.”
“If the ‘yes’ vote for the independence in Catalonia, saw the light, well, we would respect that choice,” he said immediately afterward, in what seemed like a mistake his colleagues tried to iron out. His spokesmen said that Juncker was referring to a referendum endorsed by the Constitutional Court. “That is the position of the European Commission, it has not changed an inch,” said his spokesman.
However, Oriol Junqueras, Vice-President of the Catalan regional government, was quick to interpret the statement as support on social networks.
Juncker repeated his position: “It is clear that if there is a ‘yes’ to Catalan independence, Catalonia cannot become a member of the EU the next day. They would need to follow the same process as all member states that have joined since 2004,” he added.
English version by Debora Almeida.