Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spoke on Wednesday after he himself asked to do so and following a request from various parliamentary groups to report on the European Council (Article 50) on Brexit, the political situation in Catalonia.
Sánchez highlighted the parallels and connections between Brexit and the situation in Catalonia, for which there is a single common response: the need to strengthen the European project and the Spain project. The Prime Minister said he believes that “Catalan independentism stifles the European project by challenging the collective Spain project” and that “the strength of union is based on integration, never segregation”.
Sánchez defended the Spanish Constitution, a plural Spain, proud of its territorial diversity, the self-rule of its autonomous regions and dialogue over unilateralism. “Self-rule”, said Sánchez, “means social harmony, and that is what we must preserve as political leaders; our social harmony is what is at stake here, not independence”.
He also recalled that the Government of Spain will not allow the Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra [Regional Police Force of Catalonia] to be derelict in their duties and, if that attitude continues, the Government of Spain will deploy the State law enforcement agencies to Catalonia to ensure public security. The Government of Spain will not accept constitutional order to be violated and “everything found to be outside the framework of the Spanish Constitution and the Catalan Statute of Autonomy will receive a calm but firm, proportional and resounding response from the Social and Democratic State under the Rule of Law,” Sánchez said.
In his speech, Sánchez confirmed that a Council of Ministers will be held on 21 December in Barcelona and that it will approve an increase to the minimum wage in 2019 to 900 euros, which is an increase of 22% and the largest increase since 1977. “A rich country”, he said, “cannot have poor workers”.
Guarantees for the people living in Campo de Gibraltar
Sánchez stressed that, as is the case with the Catalan pro-independence movement, Brexit “was launched on an unprecedented campaign of lies and misinformation” and that “we are facing a movement that goes against history and against reason” that “will bring dire consequences for the United Kingdom,” he warned.
As regards the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the Member States of the European Union on November 25 in Brussels, Sánchez stressed that it safeguards the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and vice-versa, “an absolute priority for the Government of Spain”, he said. In terms of markets and services, it also guarantees the free movement of goods commercialised following the end of the transitional period established, ending on December 31, 2020.
Sánchez highlighted the Government of Spain’s priority to offer peace of mind and security to the people living in Campo de Gibraltar and said that Spain “has more than achieved the goals proposed at the start of negotiations”, going on to stress that “Article 184 does not include Gibraltar within the territorial scope of the future relationship” and saying that the Political Declaration from the European Council and the European Commission firstly requires prior agreement from Spain to negotiate any agreement by the European Union that applies to Gibraltar and, secondly, excludes Gibraltar from the general negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom.