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Spain has slipped Catalan independence into a Europol terrorist list. This was made clear by the statements of the executive director of the European police body, Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, before the Civil Liberties committee of the European Parliament - where he acknowledged that it is the member states who notify them of the "data". Asked by Catalan MEP Diana Riba (ERC party), Lecouffe explained that the information was provided by the state (in this case, the Spanish state) and that they are limited to verifying that this information is "irrefutable". "We don't have to evaluate the facts", he apologized. 

The MEP's questioning of the Europol head followed the publication of a report on the situation of terrorism in the European Union, in which Europol includes Catalan and Basque independence movements as the "most active and violent" in the Spanish state. The European police document asserts that these movements "combine separatism with left-wing extremist views" and "messages against the Spanish state and institutions, as well as against capitalism". "Social discontent and economic struggles are being used by these groups in their messages against the Spanish state, and also as an opportunity to recruit the most disadvantaged sectors of society," the document reads. The "separatist groups in Spain" shares the same chapter on "Ethno-nationalist and separatist terrorism" as the Kurdistan Workers' Party and the Dissident Republican (DR) groups in Northern Ireland. Of course, there is no warning in the report about the rise of the extreme right in the Spanish state.

Criminalizing independentism

This is an annual report released by Europol intended to monitor the current dangers in the EU in terms of terrorism in order to act on security and prevention, as explained by Riba in an extensive thread on Twitter. Having said that, the Republican Left MEP reviewed the document and went to the arrests section to see "the magnitude of the terrorist tragedy that Spain is experiencing". "And, surprise! We see that there has been only one arrest in Spain. Specifically, of a former member of ETA for events... that took place in 1987", she underlines. She then asked Lecouffe about the methodology used by Europol for the report in case the whole thing was "a criminalization strategy". "Yes, I may be someone who thinks the worst", she quipped.

Indeed, it seems that Riba's suspicions are correct. The executive director of Europol acknowledged that the information was provided by Spain and that the European body limited themselves to verifying that the data was "irrefutable" because their job is not to "evaluate the facts". Additionally, Lecouffe apologized, noting that not all the movements mentioned in the report are "terrorist" - but that "it is about preventing terrorist acts". "All types of speech that can lead to extremism without necessarily being terrorist acts are followed and controlled," he insisted. Insufficient explanation for Riba, who lamented the lack of "specifics" that point to the Catalan independence movement as violent. "We find it hard to believe why the situation in Catalonia is being talked about. There have been no arrests, no violent acts, no situation for the [Catalan independence movement] to be represented in this report," remarked the ERC MEP.