Has Madrid leant on the EC again?

Frans Timmermans is someone I had never heard of until Wednesday.  If you have no idea who he is, let me enlighten you.  Frans Timmermans is the Vice President of the European Commission.

He’s now notorious for giving a speech in the European Parliament in which he described the brutality meted out by Spanish paramilitary police in Catalonia as “proportionate”.

He said: “None of us want to see violence in our societies, … However it is a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.”

Below is a short clip that demonstrates the idiocy of Timmermans’ statement.  There are literally scores of such clips on social media.

Timmermans is a member of the PvdA [Dutch Labour party]. The day after Spanish brutality hit headlines scross Europe, his party colleague Kirsten van den Hul had an article published on the party website.  The article contained the following: “The massive violence that the Spanish police employed to prevent citizens from voting is unacceptable.”

Given Kirsten van den Hul’s article appeared on the Dutch party website, it’s a safe bet that her feelings are shared by party colleagues.  So why did Frans Timmermans describe what his colleague had called the “massive violence” of the Spanish police as “proportionate”?

Viviane Reding

I was reminded of a story from October 2012 involving the European Commission, a Vice President and Madrid.

In an interview in September 2012, Viviane Reding, the Luxembourgeois vice-president of the European Commission – who was on a visit to the Andalusian parliament – was asked whether international law meant that Catalonia would have to leave the EU in the event of the region achieving independence.

According to the journalist, Federico Durán Basallote, Ms Reding responded to his question by dismissing the suggestion, saying international law said no such thing.  He quoted her saying: “Oh come on, it [international law] doesn’t say anything like that.”

The interview led to an article in Spanish newspaper Diario de Sevilla in which Ms Reding’s comments were portrayed as strengthening arguments in favour of newly independent states, already members of the EU, remaining members.

According to Basallote, the Madrid Government was furious at Ms Reding’s remarks, which undermined the contention of the Spanish government that an independent Catalonia would be expelled from the EU and have to re-apply for membership.

The Spanish government then exerted pressure on the office of José Manuel Durão Barroso [remember him?], the President of the European Commission, to force them to withdraw Ms Reding’s comments about international law. The EC did so, and applied pressure on the newspapers which had published the story. Both withdrew their articles.

That’s where Newsnet Scotland came in. Asked by Newsnet if Ms Reding was denying saying that there was no international law which says that Catalonia would be out of the EU, Meena Andreeva, who was Viviane Reding’s spokesperson, provided a transcript of the interview.

She said: “I have supplied the English original of what Vice-President Reding said during the interview which was conducted in English language (therefore this is not a translation but the original transcribed wording).”

She added: “The newspaper which published Vice-President Reding’s interview has published a correction of their reporting on the matter and so did El Economista. The issue has therefore been clarified from our perspective and there is nothing more to add.”

What the EC did not know was that Newsnet had managed to track down the journalist who had carried out the interview. Federico Durán Basallote had recorded the converstion.  Ms Reding was clearly heard to say, in response to his question: “Oh come on, it [international law] doesn’t say anything like that.”

It proved that the European Commission had lied. I still have the emails and the recording somewhere on an old laptop.

If Madrid was able to persuade EC officials to lie in 2012 on the issue of Catalonia, then it wouldn’t be that difficult to persuade Frans Timmermans to make his ludicrous and extremely dangerous statement.  I hasten to add that I have no idea if this is what has happened.

Whatever the truth, the fact is that the EC has left the Catalan people isolated and defenceless. The European Commission has given a green light to Madrid to do whatever it wants. Spanish military hardware is now rolling towards Catalonia. Conflict looks inevitable.


As reckless as Timmermans’ comments are, they are as nothing when compared the sheer hypocrisy of the EC which has been banging on about the ‘rule of law’ and how it cannot interfere in a member state’s constitution.

In July this year both Timmerman and the Commission did just that when the Polish Government sought to make constitutional court changes.

The BBC reported:

The European Commission says it is launching legal action against Poland over plans to give politicians more power to sack and appoint judges.


The Commission said Poland would be stripped of its EU voting rights if it went ahead with proposals to force all Supreme Court judges into retirement.


Timmermans said the Commission would sue Poland for breaking EU rules on judicial independence and on gender discrimination – because the legislation sets different retirement ages for male and female judges.

Incredibly, the reason for the EC’s intervention was that constitutional experts felt the changes by the Polish Government risked undermining the rule of law, democracy and human rights in the country.  Yes that’s right.  Democracy and human rights.  Ponder that.

Meanwhile it’s acceptable for paramilitary police units to brutalise hundreds of people for the ‘crime’ of attending a polling station.


If you enjoyed reading this article please feel free to make a small donation.

Views: 3596
Please follow and like us 🙂

21 thoughts on “Has Madrid leant on the EC again?

  1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    Newsnet Scotland archives (on Newsnet.scot) have an item similar in tenor from around that time (Oct 2012). This one involves possible liaison between Rajoy’s Partido Popular and Ruth Davidson:

    “The Conservative party has admitted that Scottish leader Ruth Davidson had a secret meeting with a delegation from the Spanish Partido Popular (PP) at the Tory party conference in Birmingham in October. However they have denied that they negotiated a deal that would see a common front in opposition to a newly independent Scotland and Catalonia remaining in the EU.”


    Compare Catalan blog here:


        1. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

          Newsnet.scot was hacked and down Tuesday night and into yesterday. Back up and running late last night (Wed). Obviously down again.

  2. Kangaroo

    It beggars belief doesn’t it.

    The powers that be will work together to make sure they stay in control, no matter what. Democracy after all is a danger to the established order. The rich and powerful must always retain their position and wealth.

    Egalite, fraternite and liberte, the catchcry of the poor and oppressed.

    Let’s see how it pans out. Though it doesn’t look good. The ghost of Franco stalks Catalonia.

  3. Clydebuilt

    Surely this going to create a problem when it comes to selling the notion of an Independent Scotland in the EU?

    Already Jim Sillars has grasped the opportunity. Craig Murray has turned against the EU.




    1. Vestas

      indyref2 + EU isn’t going to happen now as the 35% of Yes voters who voted to leave the EU has been massively increased by recent events. I’m with Craig Murray on his one.

      EFTA/EEA is the only game in town & the SNP need to get on with that PDQ.

  4. Robert Graham

    like all organisations the EU are subject to pressures from the big hitters and powerful interests , i hope people dont think this EU is our saviour , their interests were served during 2014 by doing our unions bidding and not confirming a seamless transition into the EU should we vote “YES” , pressure behind the scenes by england & Spain , suited a stable EU .

    I first became a little dubious of this EU when the ridiculous farcical secrecy surrounding the TTIP negotiations , where MEPs had any and all means of recording even the essence of these negotiations with the USA , and i believe faced very harsh measures should they talk about anything they saw in the documents they were allowed to see .

    This EU will come to our rescue if and when it suits them , we are not a special favoured case until we become useful to bigger interests , we could be useful to the EU re this impasse in the Brexit talks ,so dont be fooled its not for our benefit they would do this .

  5. Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    In reponse to Clydebuilt (11.59 above) here is an extract from the Catalan ‘Batxillerat’ blog. Please bear in mind this goes back to Oct/Nov 2012 –

    “While the Foreign Minister and the Spanish ambassador to the UK stress the constitutional and legal differences between Scottish and Catalan independence, the ruling Partido Popular makes no secret of its attempts to build a European-wide alliance of parties opposed to independence movements within EU states and to give a “joint response” to all such movements. Mr Trillo-Figueroa’s letter to the Financial Times came the day after British Conservatives were forced to deny that they had reached an agreement with the Partido Popular to combat Scottish and Catalan aspirations to independence, and to ensure that a future independent Scotland or Catalonia would be expelled from the EU. A spokesperson for the Conservatives said that there was no pact and insisted that the party had no plans to enter any such pact at any time in the future. However, despite the Conservatives’ denials, the party admitted that Scottish leader Ruth Davidson had held secret talks with a delegation led by the Partido Popular’s Esteban González Pons during the Conservatives’ recent conference in Birmingham. In an interview with a Spanish newspaper, Mr González Pons claimed that he had reached an agreement with British Conservatives to give a “joint response” to the Catalan and Scottish independence movements. It was also reported in the Spanish media that Mr González Pons, the PP’s Vice-Secretary for Studies and Programmes, would be holding additional meetings with Conservative and Labour figures in Scotland this December. Newsnet Scotland has contacted the Conservative and Labour parties to ask for clarification of the purpose of these meetings and the topics to be discussed – we await answers to our questions.”


    1. Robert Graham

      yeah i share your optimism on getting any kind of coherent answer to anything asked , as half truths and downright lies are their Modus operandi , as Alex Salmond said of the tories what do you expect they are tories its what they do , it goes with the Territory , as for labour anything goes with that lot . .

  6. c avery

    Catalonia, the UK and Scotland: At this rate within the next two years about 1/5th of the EU’s population is about to leave or be forced out against their wishes.

  7. Vestas

    Catalan parliament suspended by Spain’s “Constitutional Court”. Military started moving in yesterday.

    Anyone still want to stay in the EU in preference to EFTA?

  8. Alasdair Macdonald

    I do not think Madrid had to lean on the EU at all. It was doing what the EU expected it to do, pour encourager les autres – Scots, Walloons, Flemings, Bretons, Basques, Gallego, Sards, Corsicans.

  9. m biyd

    Ariside Briand’s vision for a European Union was the death of the nation state and the internecine warfare that blighted Europe for centuries. It starts to come to pass and the European nation states won’t allow it.. the EU is finished.

    1. vagabondo

      Ariside Briand was a French Socialist Prime Minister who died in 1932. His time was of the Third Republic, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italian German Unification. He propose d something like a proto European Coal and Steel Community and was concerned with preventing a repeat of the Great War. He did not play any part in the current EU, and certainly bears no culpability for the neo-liberal economics and supremacy of the appointed EC over the EU Parliament that was pushed so vigorously by Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

      Most of what the Brexiteers complain about the EU, non-elected officials, TTIP and othe trade agreements that favour global corporations, UK interpretation of the CAP and CFP, etc. are the result of British interventions. Hopefully the EU will be a better place without the UK Tories with their obsequience to unearned wealth and oligarchy.

  10. Susan Forrest

    Interesting how England (insert tories) want to be out of the EU, yet want to influence who can be members in future ? The words “sod” & “off” spring to mind, you are leaving so please do so quickly & quietly

    As for our Independence, the EU response to Catalonia has been shameful & does put a different light on the question of our own position as Indy Scotland. Though at the moment I’m starting to wonder whether we’re ever going to start talking about #ScotRef, far less EU membership

  11. Philip Maughan

    Meanwhile, BBC World News (2100, 6th. Oct.) stated that the result of the Catalan indy. vote was 90.18% Yes, ‘though less than half of the electorate voted’, making no mention of the 700K+ votes confiscated by the Spanish authorities.

    1. Clydebuilt

      Prof. Michael Keating Director of the Centre on Constitutional Change at the University of Edinburgh, was interviewed re Catalonia this morning on BBC radio Scotland . He said there is a majority against Independence in Catalonia.

      Once again no mention of the 770E3 votes confiscated, or the 25% that typically don’t vote in Spanish elections.


      Keating’s organisation should be renamed Centre for Preventing Constitutional Change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Facebook Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com