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The prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, has said that the European Union (EU) "cannot ignore the reality" of what is happening in Catalonia, in the context of the imminent application of article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and the revocation of the region's autonomy.

Bettel also said that, although the issue isn't currently on the agenda for the EU leaders' summer to start this Thursday in Brussels, he expects Mariano Rajoy "to speak about that point", reports the Financial Times.

So far, EU authorities have tried to avoid making any public statements on the crisis over Catalonia, limiting themselves to commenting that it's a purely internal matter. Bettel repeated this point, but his comments beyond the official script show that the conflict is of growing worry for European leaders. "We cannot ignore the reality," he said.

Bettel also criticised the Catalan leaders that organised the referendum. In fact, he believes that it "wasn't a great idea" for the Catalan government to show that "they don't care about the law in organising a referendum". For the prime minister, the law and the Constitution "should be respected". The Luxembourgish leader urged for a "political discussion" to try and solve the problem.

Bettel was speaking at a meeting of Liberal leaders before this Thursday's summit to be attended by the 28 leaders, including Bettel himself and Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. The summit's agenda does not include the Spain-Catalonia conflict. Rajoy will also hold bilateral meetings with other leaders, for example one this evening with French president Emmanuel Macron.