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Ian Hudghton (Greens/EFA) - In his opening remarks in this debate on the situation in Poland, Commission Vice-President Timmermans said that ‘an issue pertaining to the rule of law never affects only the country concerned: it affects the whole construction of the European Union.’ The debate has also referred to the requirement that independence of justice systems and courts must be maintained. Frequently, in our debates, we demand that the fundamental rights of people be respected by governments. Why is it that the Commission and the Council have not expressed similar concerns over the situation in Catalonia? It is outrageous that the government of a Member State can inflict violence upon peaceful citizens on their way to cast a vote. It is unacceptable that the Spanish Government can sack the legitimately elected government of Catalonia, and utterly incredible that elected Catalan ministers are sent to prison for exercising the democratic mandate given to them by voters in Catalonia. Surely this is a situation which demands a response from the leadership of the EU, at the very least offering to facilitate dialogue and a return to democratic order, and seeking guarantees that voters in Catalonia will be allowed to democratically determine their own constitutional future.