German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France President Emmanuel Macron has throw their weight behind Madrid in the Catalan independence crisis on Thursday, backing the Spanish government’s response to the country’s worst political crisis in decades.
EU leaders gathering for a summit in Brussels closed ranks behind Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, saying the standoff over Catalonia’s independence drive must be settled within the provisions of Spain’s constitution.
The strong support and unity comes as Madrid vowed to take back some of the Catalan regional government’s powers and its leader warned he could declare independence, deepening the crisis still further.
“We back the position of the Spanish government,” Merkel said as she arrived for the summit. “We hope there are solutions found on the basis of the Spanish constitution.”
France has been outspoken in its support of the Madrid government during the crisis, with Macron charging recently that the separatists were motivated in part by “economic selfishness”. The French president told reporters in Brussels he expected the 28 EU leaders to voice solid support for Madrid.
“This European Council will be marked by a message of unity — unity with our member states facing crises, unity with Spain and very strong unity in discussions about Brexit,” he said.