The Spanish government says there will be no Catalonia independence vote Sunday, even as the regional government continues preparations for the referendum.
Spanish Culture Minister Inigo Mendez de Vigo said Friday the independence vote violates Spanish law and the government will not accept the results of the referendum.
“We are open to dialogue within the framework of the law. As you would understand nobody can ask us … to engage in dialogue outside the framework of the law. It's impossible,” he said. “No European political leader can even consider dealing with an issue that is not in [Spanish] government hands."
Catalan authorities say they will declare independence from Spain within 48 hours of the vote if residents there choose to secede. The Spanish government has fought the measure and has instructed police to confiscate all referendum materials, as well as prevent the use of public buildings as polling stations.
On Friday, Catalan farmers rode tractors through the streets of Barcelona, driving slowly and waving pro-independence flags and banners. The tractors eventually stopped, converging on the regional government building.
At the same time, European Union officials say they will not mediate the dispute between Spain and Catalonia, calling it a matter of Spanish law.
“[It is] a Spanish problem in which we can do little. It's a problem of respecting Spanish laws that Spaniards have to resolve,” said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans called on Europeans to respect the constitution and rule of law in their countries. He said people in the EU need to organize themselves “in accordance with the constitution of that member state.”
“That is the rule of law – you abide by the law and the constitution even if you don't like it,” he said.
Catalan authorities previously had appealed to the EU for help, saying the Spanish government undermined their democratic values.