45,000 Catalan separatists protest against EU in Brussels
Thousands of Catalan separatists have taken to the streets of Brussels to protest against the perceived lack of action from the EU in relation to the region’s independence movement.
Over 45,000 people took part in the protest, according to Brussels police, which was centred around the European quarter of the city.
The demonstration took place while former leader of the Catalan parliament Carles Puigdemont remains in Brussels, despite a European warrant being lifted for his arrest earlier this week.
Puigdemont and several other regional MPs fled to the Belgian capital after the Spanish government sacked the regional government in response to a unilateral declaration of independence following an illegal referendum vote in October.
Europe has so far backed the actions of Mariano Rajoy’s government, with the independence supporters displayed messages such as "Shame on you" and "Wake up Europe" during the demonstration.
Spanish government spokesperson Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría criticised the organisers of the protest, wryly remarking in a press conference that they were only able to travel to Belgium because of their Spanish passports.
"It’s a European right derived from the fact Spain forms part of the EU. The organisers of this process have criticised the EU and what it represents, and they have undoubtedly thrown stones over a European roof when they don’t support us," she said.