The European Commission and the European Parliament have today declined to attend the ceremony to award the Ernest Udina Prize for a Europeanist Career awarded annually by APEC (Association of European Journalists of Catalonia), because the trophy includes a yellow ribbon. The prize, given this year to Jean Quatremer, Brussels correspondent for French newspaper Libération, also includes the message "To vote is not a crime".
A European Commission spokesperson told news agency ACN that the trophy represents a "political message which goes beyond the institutional framework" and doesn't meet their "criteria for neutrality". They said there was no boycott against Quatremer or the ceremony and that Brussels respects freedom of expression.
Reporting the "boycott" on Twitter, Quatremer himself put it down to the Commission and Parliament being "scared of displeasing Madrid".
Un artiste catalan a créé cette sculpture pour le prix Ernest Udina du journalisme européen que je reçois à #Barcelone aujourd’hui. La Commission et le Parlement européen boycottent la cérémonie à cause d’elle. Peur de déplaire à Madrid. pic.twitter.com/zamycNTpYY— Jean Quatremer (@quatremer) 7 de juny de 2019
The two European institutions have collaborated with APEC's prize since its creation in 2006. Indeed, in recent years, the ceremony has been held at the Commission's building in Barcelona. Sources express regret they weren't informed about the nature of this year's prize design in advance, in which case they would have "distanced" themselves entirely from it and wouldn't have allowed the use of their logos.