Daily Management Review

'Chaos like a virus' could be spread across Europe by Catalonia crisis


'Chaos like a virus' could be spread across Europe by Catalonia crisis
With fears that the vote could spread uncertainty throughout the continent, following the Catalonia region's "illegal" referendum vote Sunday, Europe's political leaders are calling for a quick and meaningful solution to the constitutional crisis enveloping Spain.
His government is ready to declare independence "in a matter of days", said Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday as the situation stands. The Spanish government would be expected to try to seize powers back from Catalonia's devolved government after such an act which is expected to plunge Spain into a constitutional crisis and could lead to an unprecedented power grab by the Spanish government.
European leaders called for resolution to the situation with potentially little time to salvage the situation.
"Europe needs a solution and Europe needs to avoid this chaos — chaos can be like a virus and we need to avoid chaos," Enrico Letta, the former prime minister of Italy, said.
"We were exiting from the main political problems in Europe and now this Catalonian issue risks bringing a new virus and new chaos," he added.
During a period of heightened political instability in Italy and economic crisis in the euro zone, having presided over a fraught coalition government in 2013-2014, Letta is no stranger to upheaval himself. Particularly from the then- party leader and current Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, due to a lack of support for his leadership within his own Democratic Party, Letta resigned after 10 months.
It was "inconceivable" that the Catalan authorities could unilaterally declare independence and a political solution was necessary in this case, he said.
"Formally and legally, what happened in the referendum is out of the rule of law but it's necessary to have a political solution and dialogue… It's time for national authorities and government to move and find a peaceful solution," he said.
Amid mounting criticism of a deafening silence in Brussels, the European Parliament is set to debate the crisis in Catalonia. Still, quick to voice support for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the national government and constitution were European leaders – many of them with separatist movements in their own back yards.
But not wanting to be seen to interfere in another country's affairs, many European leaders have been notable for their lack of criticism of Spain's heavy-handed tactics in trying to stop the vote. According to the Catalan Department of Health, over 890 people were injured as Spanish riot police tried to stop the vote Sunday.
The European Commission did not make any other allusion to the violence during the vote and said on Monday that "violence can never be an instrument in politics". However, if Catalonia declared independence, it would find itself outside the EU, they warned.
Saying its talk of upholding democratic values appeared hollow given its opposition to the public vote on independence, some have criticized the EU for "double-standards".
While, like many other leaders, not wanting to be seen commenting on a domestic situation, Hungarian Finance Minister Peter Szijjarto said that the EU had shown some "double-standards" over the issue.
"We consider this whole issue as a domestic issue of Spain and we would like to avoid any commentary or any kind of interference into the domestic issues of Spain because what we understand so far is that we've been the victims many times of external interference… so we'd rather leave it to the Spanish to deal with it."