EIGHT months after Catalonia held a referendum into becoming independent from Spain, the European Union has finally agreed to look into aggression by the Madrid government in the weeks following the all-important vote.
Spanish police took a hard-line when dealing with those campaigning for separation at the time of the referendum and were accused by Human Rights Watch of using “excessive force” against “peaceful protestors”.
The Spanish state argued they were justified in their actions as they deemed the vote to be illegal.
In a letter to Catalonian MEPs sent by the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last month, the elite trade bloc finally agreed to investigate the vicious methods used by the Spanish police to suppress independence campaigners.
The announcement contrasted with the view expressed by Brussels at the time of the vote when Mr Juncker refused to intervene in the violent outbreaks and backed the Madrid view that the vote was not authorised by the Spanish constitution.
In a statement released 24 hour after the independence referendum last October the EU said: “Under the Spanish Constitution, yesterday's vote in Catalonia was not legal.
“For the European Commission, as President Juncker has reiterated repeatedly, this is an internal matter for Spain that has to be dealt with in line with the constitutional order of Spain.”
Brussels did use the statement to argue “violence can never be an instrument in politics” but failed to intervene following the police brutality and instead continued to argue the vote was an “internal” matter.
Catalonian politicians were then forced to flea the country following the vote as the Spanish state prosecuted those involved in organising the referendum.
A number of MPs remain in prison and the ex-Catalonian leader, Carles Puigdemont, is currently being detained in Germany after Madrid put out a European arrest warrant for his capture.
After months of pleas for the EU to take a stand against the violent methods, the trade bloc appears to now be listening.