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Welsh and Scottish MPs have sponsored an Early Day Motion in the UK House of Commons which calls on the government in Westminster to "press the relevant EU institutions to consider launching a procedure under Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union in response to the Spanish state's actions in relation to the Catalan crisis".

So far, 11 members have signed the motion, including all four of Plaid Cymru's MPs, with the rest coming from the Scottish National Party. "There is a clear risk that Spain has committed a serious and persistent breach of the EU's founding values of respect for freedom, democracy, justice and human rights outlined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union," they write.

Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union defines a mechanism for the Union to censure member states which are judged to have violated the rights set out in Article 2 of the same treaty, namely human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. The procedure can lead to a member state having some of its own rights suspended, including its right to vote in the European Council.

The article has never been enforced in full against any member state, although it has been debated on a number of occasions. While votes in the European Parliament under the first part of the article have been passed against Poland Hungary in the last two years, neither procedure has yet led to any sanctions being put in place.

Second motion

A second motion brought by many of the same MPs would have the House of Commons express "deep concern at the verdict of the Spanish Supreme Court" in the Catalan independence trial. This motion is currently sponsored by 15 MPs in total, including one from Labour.

The second motion also "rejects the proposition that bringing criminal charges is a way to resolve political differences; expresses further concern that this trial has further polarised opinion in Catalonia and has led to hostile and violent police action against peaceful, large-scale public protests; and calls for the annulling of these sentences and for the Government of Spain to engage in a proper and respectful process of dialogue with the Government of Catalonia."

Around ten Early Day Motions are proposed on average each day the Commons is sitting, of which very few are ever granted time for debate in the Chamber. Instead they serve as a means for individual MPs to take a stance on issues that matter to them.

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