“I am sure that the Catalan crisis will go on for months. At present I don't see a real solution”. This is the diagnosis of the President of the EU's Committee of the Regions, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, in an interview published in EUobserver, one of the references among digital media for European affairs. He adds that the solution is to found by "sitting around the table" and not by putting "elected politicians in prison".
Lambertz knows a few things about this kind of conflict. Not just because he holds a Masters in Law from Lovaina and Heildelberg, but in particular because he is Belgian and, more specifically still, he belongs to the German-speaking minority, for whom he was minister-president between 1999 and 2014. Now he is a senator and a member of the commission that, under the order of Belgian's king Albert, has to find the way out of the long-running constitutional crisis in which Belgium has become immersed. He is also a socialist.
Lambertz is moderate but has clear principles. At the outset, he apportions a share of the blame to both sides in the Catalan conflict, saying that in his view the Catalan authorities may not have considered all the possible consequences of their actions. "But I am also convinced that the way to come to solutions cannot be to send police for a referendum, even if it is problematic on a constitutional level. It is also not the best way to bring elected politicians in prison for these kinds of events." In the EU, he says, these matters must be discussed "around a table".
The Scottish example
He mentions the UK's approach to the independence question in Scotland: reaching agreement on a legal referendum. By contrast, he says that in Spain there was an absence of high level dialogue. "This cannot be a good solution”, he says.
Lambertz calls Spain “a regionalized state with experience”, but his reading of the situation is that since the referendum held on Catalonia's Autonomy Statute in 2006, the situation has degenerated into conflict. "What we are living now are the consequences of that", he says, emphasising that negotiation is the key, one which he hopes will emerge in "the next days, weeks and months".
Moreover, the Spanish/Catalan cul-de-sac “is bad for all the European regions”, he says. “Regionalisation is in my opinion a very important aspect of governance in Europe. It is something very positive".