For Brussels, the priority is getting an internal dialogue going in Spain

Brussels is encouraging Spain to organize an internal dialogue to solve the institutional crisis that has wracked it following Sunday’s referendum in Catalonia, which Madrid sees as unconstitutional.

The question of European Union (EU) accompaniment has been raised, but “right now I do not yet support international mediation; the priority now is internal dialogue,” Prime Minister Charles Michel told the Belgian Chamber on Thursday.

“Perhaps this position will need to be assessed ultimately, depending on developments and the state of affairs,” added the Belgian Prime Minister, pointing to the European Summit to be held on 19-20 October.

Asked by the Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) party about the issue of recognizing Catalonia’s independence, Mr. Michel stressed that “there is no question of discussing a topic that has not come up at this stage.”

Recalling that the Catalan initiative has been “contested by the Spanish Constitutional Court”, he said developments needed to be examined. “But one needs to be consistent,” he explained. “You cannot say you want a dialogue and prejudge its results.”

The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), which supports independence for Catalonia, was at the heart of the debate in the Chamber on Thursday, accused by some parliamentarians of influencing the federal government’s political line to the detriment of European construction, and by some of double-speak, separatist abroad and pragmatist in Belgium.

Parliament welcomed Michel’s condemnation – one of the rare ones in Europe – of the political violence observed during Sunday’s referendum in Catalonia.

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