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Members of the Flanders, UK, Estonian and Danish Parliaments have, together with the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform, created the Parliamentary Network of Friendship Groups of Catalonia. The objective for the new group is to "bring together voices" which had previously been working separately in their respective countries to "coordinate" future actions.

The announcement was made in a press conference in the European Parliament by MPs belonging to the groups in the network. In a manifesto signed at the Parliament, they call for the release of the pro-independence prisoners, speak of "the urgent need to find a political solution" and urge the EU to mediate. They also plan to denounce the "repression" in Spain and call for respect for the right to self-determination in a binding referendum.

During the press conference, Hywel Williams (Wales) said that the manifesto is "extremely important" and that democracy "concerns everyone". Magni Arge (Faroe Islands), meanwhile, agreed that today's steps are "necessary" given the upcoming trial of pro-independence leaders in the Supreme Court. According to Arge, support has to be given for a "fair trial". He also warned that the situation in Catalonia could be "a problem for other European countries in the future" and that "European governments and part of the media are looking the other way... we need to explain this story".

During his turn, Peter Luykx (Flanders) said that "Europe cannot always remain silent" and called for "international awareness" about the situation in Catalonia. "We need the prisoners to be released. It's a disgrace that they're behind bars for expressing their opinion," he said. Artur Talvik (Estonia) also denounced the situation of the prisoners and urged people to "continue fighting against an unjust situation".

According to MEP Jordi Solé (ERC), the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform will coordinate the new network. One of its first actions, MEP Ramon Tremosa (PDeCAT) said, will be to denounce the imprisonment of the former speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell. "It will be an action to inform all Europe's parliaments about this clear violation of democratic principles only for allowing a debate with a clear majority," he said.

There are currently seven such groups in parliaments around Europe. Of these, the Swiss, Finnish and Irish groups couldn't attend today's meeting in Brussels, but they're expected to sign the manifesto and join the new network in the coming days.

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