- Neilson Barnard/Getty
A European Union commissioner has warned of a looming “civil war” in Spain over Catalonia’s calls for independence.
“The situation is very, very disturbing,” said Günther Oettinger, the EU’s budget commissioner, The Telegraph reported on Thursday.
“A civil war is planned in the middle of Europe.”
“One can only hope that a conversation will be made between Madrid and Barcelona soon,” Oettinger, who is from Germany, continued.
He added that the EU could only mediate talks between the two sides “if asked.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who views the referendum as unconstitutional, said on Wednesday: “The government is not going to negotiate any illegality, it will not accept any blackmail.”
- Albert Gea/Reuters
Over 2.2 million Catalonians, or 42% of the region’s electorate, voted overwhelmingly to separate from Spain last Sunday. The referendum was marred by violence as riot police clashed with demonstrators, and almost 900 people were injured that day.
Catalonian lawmakers said earlier this week they would declare independence next Monday.
Earlier this week, the European Commission also issued a statement saying the Catalonian referendum was illegal but an “internal matter for Spain.” The commission added that if Catalonia separates from Spain, the new state “would find itself outside of the European Union.”
Oettinger’s comments came as Banco de Sabadell, the second-largest bank in Catalonia, announced it was moving its legal headquarters out of the region and into Alicante, a town in eastern Spain. CaixaBank, Catalonia’s largest bank, also plans to move out of the region if Catalonian leaders declare independence, The Financial Times reported.
A Catalonian split from Spain would bring about so much regional uncertainty, the negative economic impact could “proportionally exceed” that of Brexit, Dutch bank ING said earlier this year.
The EU commissioner’s statement is likely to unnerve some. The Spanish civil war, which took place between 1936 and 1939, killed about 200,000 people, forced about 450,000 into exile, and plunged the country under a nationalist dictatorship under General Francisco Franco for 40 years.