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Catalan Referendum ‘Not Legal,’ Says European Commission

Catalonia’s referendum was “not legal” under Spain’s Constitution, said the European Commission on Monday. The Commission has called for unity between Madrid and Barcelona in the region’s escalating political crisis.

“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,” said the Commission in a statement.

“We also reiterate the legal position held by this Commission as well as by its predecessors,” the Commission continued. “If a referendum were to be organized in line with the Spanish Constitution, it would mean that the territory leaving would find itself outside of the European Union.”

“Beyond the purely legal aspects of this matter, the Commission believes that these are times for unity and stability, not divisiveness and fragmentation,” the statement read.

The Commission said it trusted Prime Minister Rajoy to “manage this difficult process in full respect to the Spanish Constitution.”

Rajoy delivered a televised speech on Sunday in which he defended the actions of the government following violent protests that left hundreds of people injured.

Rajoy also defended the government’s decision to send in police to stop the referendum, which was deemed illegal earlier by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Police closed public buildings being used as polling places, seized ballot papers, and attempted to diffuse protests.

The Prime Minister blamed Catalan’s leaders for the outbreak of violence.

According to health authorities in Catalan, more than 800 people were treated for police-inflicted injuries at hospitals on Sunday. Two people were seriously injured.

Although the referendum is not binding, it could lead to a stronger popular movement that would push Catalan to independence from Madrid.

The Spanish Constitutional Court has deemed the vote illegal and will allow the government to suspend Catalonia’s regional government and take control if it makes the decision to declare independence.