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Weber says EU wouldn't accept Catalan independence

The leader of the European Parliament's center-right bloc says the EU would not accept Catalan independence, Spanish media report. German MEP Manfred Weber told El Pais that secession would destabilize the country.

In an interview published in El Pais on Sunday, Manfred Weber - a German member of the European Parliament from Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) - said the EU would not recognize Catalan independence. Weber leads the parliament's European People's Party Group (EPP), whose 217 seats make it the body's largest bloc. 

"Europe cannot accept actions at the margin of the constitution," Weber, a Bavarian who has represented the CDU in Strasbourg since 2004, told El Pais.

Culturally and linguistically distinct, Catalans have an uneasy relationship with Madrid. The 36-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco severely punished the region for its defense of the republic against fascism in the Spanish Civil War. The region was given a degree of autonomy in Spain's 1978 post-dictatorship constitution, though many Catalans have suggested that they would prefer self-determination.

"Europe is a state of laws," Weber told El Pais. "That is what we talk about when we talk about European values: about respect for the laws, for the judges."

Weber heaped praise on Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose People's Party belongs to the European Parliament's EPP bloc. He said he was "very pleased" that Rajoy "is reconstructing a stable government with the help of the Socialists" and that

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Inside Europe: Catalonia continues push for independence

the prime minister "never made Brussels responsible for the problems of his country."

In 2008, Spain became one of the EU countries hardest by the global financial meltdown and continues to suffer even after the international financial system's robust recovery. Mainstream economists have noted that the EU, euro currency and blocwide austerity policies endorsed and enforced by Germany may have in fact exacerbated Spain's instability.

mkg/sms (EFE, El Pais)

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