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Catalonia is the EU’s canary in a coalmine when it comes to its citizens’ democratic rights

“They won’t dare, right?” When I had a penny for every time a European politician, adviser or journalist asked me regarding what’s Spain prepared to perform to maintain Catalonia in its rankings, I’d be rich by now.

Occasionally reality sounds overly heterodox, overly shocking. This is commonly true for the scenario in Catalonia. Because, at the end of the day, is not Spain a reliable member of the global community? Why can they repress a democratic motion rather than negotiating with it?

How can we explain that now an EU nation has political prisoners in its borders? How can we warrant a prime ministry indicating on live TV the nation’s Prosecutor’s Office would follow his directions to deliver a political competition at exile back to Spain for the trial? How can we envision that there’s a Minister of the Interior within an EU state condemned for not exploring torture? The way to accept this an EU nation has accepted a gag law that enables it to spy on your phone without the approval of a judge?

Well, this is happening in Spain, also has all to do with its authoritarian response to the Catalan requirement for self-determination.

Never mind that no euros of public money was utilized (as confessed by Minister Montoro at 2018). Never mind the declarations of liberty were deleted as crimes from the Criminal Code in 1995. The trial was about penalizing individuals who’ve dared to question the sacred unity of Spain; the specific charges were a pretext to send a message into another generation.

On the other hand, the European reader of the guide would be very much confused to believe that this isn’t likely to influence him. To the contrary, it is.

The EU functions by precedent. Superior precedents are helpful; they help export best practices across the continent and overseas, to inspire and are still an incentive for invention and excellent policies. Poor precedents are a tragedy, and if basic rights are at stake, sabotage the most precious good of the EU: its democratic validity.

When seven calm politicians and two societal leaders stay in prison for 2 years with no trial, all EU citizens have an issue. Whenever there are repeated indicators that judicial independence is diminished and keeps authoritarian perspectives, all EU citizens have an issue.

Both figures have denounced the circumstance however, Madrid has played with deaf, a mindset that one would expect more from Erdogan’s Turkey (incidentally, a loyal ally of Spain) compared to an EU state.

And that is where the EU has involved. Since Turkey’s friendship with Madrid isn’t merely an issue of great words, but deeds. And what will the EU state? Nothing. Ankara will explain to you how impartial its judges and authorities are permitted to be, and that is that.

People who will suffer are national minorities across the globe, those who view how the EU inner inaction emboldens (more) climbing autocrats across the world. Having an undermined international policy, it doesn’t help to select Josep Borrell since the EU’s new High Representative. It’s understood he has been condemned for baseball gambling by Spanish justice, but attention ought to be paid to the way his criticism of global bodies and associations which have denounced the situation will undermine the EU position on human rights overseas. Can Borrell lecture anybody on individual rights when he had been a minister in a government that warranted jailing political competitions and also creating a UN body such as the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions as dumb?

The EU’s paralysis in Catalonia can be hard felt within the EU, naturally. Can somebody actually believes that the problems on the principle of law in countries such as Poland or Hungary could be addressed if the exact criteria aren’t employed in Spain? On the contrary, Brussels tacit service for Madrid in its authoritarian stance towards Catalonia is and will be viewed as a green light for additional authoritarian wannabes within the Union. Poor precedents on political persecution of competitions stay precedents.

This is especially true once the near future of a national minority is at stake and can be discriminated from the majority-controlled judiciary.

The ECJ must protect democratic rights at the EU by letting them become MEPs, as I argued in a prior Euronews op-ed. Otherwise, what type of democracy would we’re residing? On this also, the Brussels-bubble was in quiet manner worse, in the instance of this hierarchy of the European Parliament, actively working to curb the rights of its elected members.

And therefore, Europe is about a democratic slippery incline. It will have impacts, externally and internally. Every time a new catastrophe comes along with the Far-Right consolidates itself around Europe, Spain won’t be the final EU nation to prison political competitions. There’s a Catalan canary from the EU democratic coalmine also it’s choking. Who knows who’ll be next.