Spain’s Constitutional Court has revoked a motion from the Catalonian Parliament to begin the process to separate from Madrid.
The regional assembly passed a resolution last month setting out a plan for independence within 18 months.
However, the court says it violates five articles of Spain’s 1978 constitution as well articles of the region’s own statute.
The resolution was challenged by the Spanish government in Madrid.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told reporters Wednesday’s decision “has pleased all Spanish people who believe in Spain, in national sovereignty and in the equality of citizens”.
Reaction in Catalonia
Catalonia’s recently-elected leaders say the Constitutional Court’s ruling is political and have vowed to ignore it.
“They are hiding behind a Court which is under their control,” said Francisco Homs from the CDC
Pro-independence parties hold a slim majority in the Catalan regional parliament.
However, the region of 7.5 million people is evenly divided over splitting with the rest of Spain.
Highly industrialised and populous, the north-eastern region of Catalonia accounts for around a fifth of Spain’s economic output.
What they are saying
For some, the decision carries the authority of Spanish sovereignty and the rule of law.
Catalonia’s regional government has responded angrily.
Pro-independence campaigners say the ruling will not affect support for independence for Catalonia.
Others think it will not make a difference to Catalonia’s pro-independence politicians who will press ahead with their plan for secession.