Spanish PM warns of 'greater harm' from Catalonia independence plans

Posted October 06, 2017

Update 3.14pm: The people of the town of San Rafael del Rio could find themselves split between Spain and Catalonia if the region ever secedes. "I don't remember any of these people referring to the sacredness of constitutions and sovereignty of existing states when it came to the breakup of Yugoslavia", said Kevin Ovenden, British author and political activist.

Banco Sabadell's stock price took a hit of around 10% on this week's turmoil, although it recovered slightly on Thursday morning's reports.

Also on Thursday, the board of Sabadell, a major bank, made a decision to transfer its headquarters from Barcelona to the south-eastern Spanish city of Alicante. CaixaBank's share price is also around 7% lower now than before the referendum. The police crackdown during the vote resulted in over 800 people injured across the region.

Reacting to the news, Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell said the suspension was a "violation of freedom of speech".

The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, has criticised Spain's King Felipe VI for adopting Madrid's position on the banned referendum vote in Catalonia.

Shocking images of police beating voters with batons, or dragging them by the hair on Sunday sparked global concern.

"It's time to talk, finding a way out of the impasse, working within the constitutional order of Spain", European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told an emergency debate in the European Parliament.

Catalonia, Spain's wealthiest region, wedged in the northeast on the Mediterranean coast below the mountainous border with France, has its own language and culture and a growing minority there has nurtured hopes of independence for years. Spanish media coverage on Thursday was dominated by concerns for the eurozone's fourth biggest economy.

The overall Ibex 35 index of leading Spanish shares recovered slightly by about one percent in midday trading on Thursday, following a sharp fall of almost three percent the day before.

According to Catalan officials, more than 2.2 million people voted on Sunday and that almost 90 per cent of them backed independence.

After Sunday's vote, Catalan leaders said 90 percent of votes counted favored independence and that opened the door to a unilateral call for secession from the rest of Spain.

De Guindos said the banks were "totally ready to relocate their headquarters to other regions in Spain", though he also said secession would not happen.

The EU executive has called again for the Spanish government and Catalan authorities to start dialogue.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy posted a tweet giving his "total support to the security forces which are defending the legality and rights of all of Catalonia".