We weep for Catalonia, Spain and Europe

Author: Roger Casale


Carlos Puigdemont's lawyer arrives at the prison where the Catalan leader is being held
Carlos Puigdemont's lawyer arrives at the prison where the Catalan leader is being held




As an organisation that prides itself on defending the rights of citizens, New Europeans cannot but be rightly appalled at the treatment handed out to democratically elected representatives of the Catalan parliament, other officials who supported the referendum and the Catalan leader Carlos Puigdemont.

In the end, Carlos Puigdemont did not resist arrest and is now in police custody in Germany awaiting extradition to Spain, following the issuing by Spain of a European Arrest Warrant.

Such warrants were brought in to make it easier for police forces to chase down terrorists across the borders of EU member states. What a calamity for Europe that they are now been used to hunt down elected leaders of democratic parliaments.

Who could possibly have foreseen when European Arrest Warrants were first mooted that they would be used in this way? Who would have agreed to the introduction of these warrants, had they been aware of such an eventuality at the time?

New Europeans does not have a view about the politics of Catalonian independence - or as the saying goes "we don't have a dog in the fight."

Equally, we recognize that state officials in Germany are legally obliged to follow the extradition procedures and that the independence of the legal system must be respected.

We do have a view about the way in which the issue has been handled by the Spanish government.  

We would use words like  "heavy-handed", "scandalous",  "over- the-top".  Ultimately the repressive measures have also been counter-productive.

Civil disobedience (as long as it is peaceful) has a noble tradition that needs to be respected in democracies.

While we respect the law in Spain, there also needs to be avenues within democratic states to challenge the existing constitutional status quo.

The absence of this in Spain arguably led to this extreme act of disobedience being taken.

It is often when there are no avenues to reform existing constitutional orders that those wishing to challenge the status quo adopt a more radically disobedient  turn.

In some cases, though fortunately not in this one, that can also turn to violence.

So far the violence has been the exclusive monopoly of the Spanish state.

With that power, goes responsibility to uphold not just the law but also to protect lives and the human rights of the people.

This is not a question of nuance  - it is a test, and a decisive one of the democratic credentials of a state over which the long shadow of authoritarianism refuses to wane.

 

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Roger Casale

About the Author

Roger Casale

Roger set up New Europeans and runs the initiative on a day-to-day basis.

He has experience in business, academia and politics both in the UK and internationally. He studied at Brasenose College Oxford and at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs. He speaks Italian, German, French and a little Arabic. 

In 2009, he received the award of Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana from the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano for services to British-Italian relations. He is a former Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Foreign Office.

 

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Roger Casale

About the Author

Roger Casale

Roger set up New Europeans and runs the initiative on a day-to-day basis.

He has experience in business, academia and politics both in the UK and internationally. He studied at Brasenose College Oxford and at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs. He speaks Italian, German, French and a little Arabic. 

In 2009, he received the award of Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana from the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano for services to British-Italian relations. He is a former Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Foreign Office.

 

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