European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said “no to any form of separatism” in a speech Thursday in Spain, where the government has been fighting back against an independence push in the region of Catalonia.
“Nationalism is a poison that prevents Europe from working together,” Juncker said in the speech at the University of Salamanca, where he was awarded an honorary degree. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was also in attendance.
“The moment has come to put together what belongs together. Therefore, I say no to any form of separatism that weakens Europe and further widens the existing fissures.”
Juncker’s speech comes amid the ongoing conflict between the Spanish government and Catalan secessionists, which has raised concerns about separatist movements in other EU countries. Spanish authorities have launched legal processes against former regional government members, who were dismissed by Madrid after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence on October 27. Eight politicians were jailed without bail pending trial, while a Spanish court issued a European Arrest Warrant for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont after he fled to Belgium.
“Without Spain … our European Union would be incomplete,” Juncker said Thursday.