The European Commission doubled down on its support for the paramilitary violence against civilians of all ages in Catalonia, in the debate in the European Parliament today. I watched in growing astonishment as events unfolded.
The Commission was represented by Vice President Frans Timmermans, who opened with a statement. He described the referendum in Catalonia as illegal and the actions of the Spanish police as justified, appropriate and proportionate to maintain the rule of law. He argued that there can be no human rights without the rule of law. I was expecting him to make the concomitant statement that there can be no rule of law without human rights, but he very pointedly did not say that.
In the “debate” the political groupings of the EU parliament got to make brief statements through one speaker each, starting with the largest grouping and ending with the smallest. It was only once you got down to the very small parties that human rights were mentioned at all, but they did it repeatedly. In responding to the debate, Timmermans ignored this angle entirely.
Timmerman said “rule of law” an amazing 12 times during his brief closing statement, and said “human rights” or “fundamental rights” precisely zero times. At no stage did Timmermans acknowledge that the Spanish Guardia Civil had viciously attacked peaceful civilians of all ages.
In fact, Timmerman’s statement and response together, with their refusal to recognise at any stage any rights of the citizen, and their forthright endorsement of the right of the state to use force, could have been uttered without altering a word by Franco or Pinochet.
The refusal of any of the larger parties even to contemplate for one moment the possibility that the Catalan people might have a right to
self-determination, was chilling. The so called “liberal” Verhofstadt, who argued that we “know” the Catalan majority is against independence so there is no requirement to actually vote, was beneath his veneer of bonhommie perhaps the most sinister of all. Only the Greens mentioned the UN Charter and the right of self-determination. Such was the extraordinary tenor of the general advocacy of crushing Catalan aspirations, that the Polish Law and Justice Party came across as more reasonable than the “mainstream” of the EU.
It was, in short, horrific. I am afraid to say that it left me in no doubt whatsoever that I have made the right choice in declining further to support membership of the EU.
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