New details about the campaign from Spain's foreign ministry, under acting minister Josep Borrell, against the Catalan independence movement: they allegedly are monitoring foreign consuls in Barcelona who are seen as too open to the movement. The admission was made by Borrell's chief of staff in an email to Miguel Vecino, the Spanish consul to Edinburgh, fired by Borrell earlier this year. Earlier this month, Vecino claimed that Borrell, who on 1st December will take over as EU high representative for foreign affairs, had given him "unconstitutional orders".
The chief of staff, according to online newspaper Voxpópuli, wrote to Vecino, then still in post, on 22nd April, after the consul had reported first minister Nicola Sturgeon's plan to create a consular association in Scotland. He warned Vecino that the one in Barcelona "has been one of the key instruments the Catalan government has used to try to win over the career and honorary consuls in Catalonia to its cause".
He went further, saying that as a ministry they had to push for the firing "of half a dozen [honorary] consuls" in Barcelona and that they are monitoring some career consuls.
Consuls in Barcelona
Career consuls are diplomats from the country they represent; honorary consuls, meanwhile, are often professionals from the country they serve in and have a more limited role. Barcelona is the city with the most consuls in the world: 41 career officials and 54 honorary.
A number of those accredited in Barcelona have been fired since the 2017 Catalan referendum, mostly after showing signs of positivity towards the independence movement. One of these, the Greek consul, was forced from his post whilst Borrell has been foreign minister.