Commissioner Didier Reynders met Spanish nationalist organization Societat Civil Catalana at their request, with the intention of nudging the European Commission (EC) to take sides in the attack against the Catalan immersion system, and to disinform him/the EC about the Catalan pro-independence democratic movement.
The European Commission’s highest representative for Justice, Commissioner Didier Reynders met with Spanish nationalist civil organization Societat Civil Catalana (SCC), according to the European Commission’s spokesperson for Justice, Mr. Wigand, who stated that the meeting took place at the request of that organization. He added that they discussed the political situation in Catalonia, as well as the Catalan language immersion system, currently under attack by the Spanish authorities, as reported by the Catalan News Agency.
When prompted about the far-right ideology of the Spanish organization, Mr. 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, Assemblea 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. It is worth noting that no meetings have been held between the European Commission and Catalan pro-independence civil society representatives since the Catalan independence referendum of Oct 1st, 2017.
The nature of the meeting with SCC was denounced on December 10th by 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.
In her letter, Assemblea President Elisenda Paluzie reminded 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 recalled 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.»
In this sense, she also highlighted 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.”
The European Commission’s lack of action in the face of the Spanish state’s rights abuses only threatens the respect and protection of human rights, always shirking their responsibilities by calling it an “internal matter”. Unlike Spanish nationalist organizations such as SCC, the peaceful Catalan pro-independence movement has repeatedly proven its commitment to human rights and the European rule of law. In this sense, in her letter the Catalan National Assembly president requested a meeting at the earliest convenience of the Commissioner, to offer the organization’s point of view on the matter, as a civil society entity which, unlike SCC, is listed in the EU Transparency Register.