The visit by Spain’s heads of state and government comes less than two weeks after Catalonia’s regional chief, Quim Torra, was removed from office by Spain’s Supreme Court.
Supporters of Catalonia's secession from the rest of Spain gathered in small groups around the north east region on Friday under orders from event organisers to maintain social distancing amid a spike in coronavirus cases.
An estimated 50,000 pro-independence protesters attended the main demonstration in Barcelona to mark the Catalan National Day. It was a muted affair compared to previous years because of local coronavirus restrictions.
Roger Torrent, who is a leading supporter of Catalonia’s independence campaign, alleged the reports “prove what we already knew: that the Spanish state spies on its political opponents.”
Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont addressed more than 100,000 supporters in Perpignan near the Spanish border.
It is the nearest MEP Puigdemont has come to returning to Catalonia since fleeing in 2017.
Cuban activists who made it to Brussels called on the EU to put pressure on Cuba to respect human rights.
There were mixed feelings among British MEPs this week as they sat in Strasbourg for the final time before Brexit. But there was delight among Catalan separatists after Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin were finally allowed to take their seats.
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Announcements and parliamentary procedure will follow Spain's request to lift immunity.
Now fully accredited MEPS, they are here to attend the first plenary of the year. After expressing his joy, Carles Puigdemont told the press the Catalan independence question was a European issue.