Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has branded the EU a “club of decadent and obsolete countries” and said a British-style “Catalexit” might be the solution.
The pro-independence politician attacked the organization as outdated in an interview for Israeli TV after his failed attempts to get European backing for his cause from his hideaway in Brussels.
He claimed the EU was a “club of decadent and obsolescent countries controlled by a small few and closely linked to increasingly debatable economic interests”.
See what Nigel Farage and the British people think about Puigdemont’s comments about the EU
Arguing Catalonia should turn the tables on EU chiefs who have warned there would be in place in Europe for the region if it breaks away from the rest of Spain, he added: “They’re constantly telling us we’re going to be left out of the European Union but the ones who should take that decision are the citizens of Catalonia. “Let’s see what the people of Catalonia say”.
“Perhaps there are not many people who want to form part of this EU…so insensitive to the abuse of human rights, of the democratic right of a part of its territory only because a post-Franco right wants it to be that way.”
His comments, made during an interview for a programme on Israeli state broadcaster Kan called Zman Emet, were previewed in Catalan daily La Vanguardia.
The interview took place in Brussels where Puigdemont has been holed up since fleeing Spain following the Catalan Parliament’s unilateral declaration of independence at the end of October.
The declaration led to the Spanish government imposing direct rule over Catalonia.
Puigdemont’s former government ministers were subsequently remanded in jail pending an ongoing judicial investigation.
Spain is seeking the deposed Catalan leader’s extradition from Belgium after state prosecutors said they wanted him charged with rebellion or sedition.
The father-of-two, married to Romanian actress-turned journalist Marcela Topor, faces a 30-year prison sentence if convicted of rebellion.
Puigdemont admitted in the interview he feared for his safety and claimed his family had received death threats.
Despite his attack on the EU, he told interviewer Henrique Cymerman he wanted to “work to change” the institution.
Puigdemont’s comments took many in Spain and Catalonia by surprise.
Carlos Campuzano, the spokesman for the deposed Catalan leader’s party PDECat in the Spanish Parliament, insisted today a Brexit-style referendum was not on its agenda.
He said: “The EU has been key in members’ economic and social prosperity.
Albert Rivera, the leader of the pro-union Ciudadanos party, said Puigdemont’s comments outed him as a Catalan version of French National Front leader Marine Le Pen.
He said: “Now we understand everything.
“Now his populist and the nationalist mask have fallen. All populism is the same, they want to destroy the EU.
“Nationalism and populism are two sides of the same coin.”