Spain excludes Catalan police from Europol while granting access to Basques
Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan government expressed outcry after the Spanish executive granted the Basque police, Ertzaintza, access to the Europol database while excluding the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra. Spanish and Basque officials came to an agreement about the matter in a security coordination meeting, which also generated uneasiness in Catalonia, as its executive has called for a similar bilateral meeting for years. The last one between Madrid and Barcelona was held back in 2009, although the Spanish government had committed to holding one on a yearly basis.
Catalan Minister of Home Affairs Jordi Jané stated that “the bilateral security coordination meeting in the Basque country has been held while calls and letters from Catalonia are not answered”. “Why, if not for political reasons?,” he wondered. Jané warned that the country shares a border with France and “in a few hours a French terrorist can be in the Empordà," in northern Catalonia.
Spain’s Secretary of Home Affairs José Antonio Nieto said the bilateral security coordination meeting will only be called in an "atmosphere of agreement and trust" between the Spanish and Catalan executives. Nieto also suggested this is unlikely as long as members of the Catalan government try to "deliberately violate" the law by calling an independence referendum.
The vice-secretary of the Mossos d’Esquadra trade union, Sindicat de Policia de Catalunya (SPC), Àngels Bosch, complained over the unfair treatment by the Spanish government of the Basque and Catalan police. Bosch, who is also president of Eurocop, an organization comprised of 33 police trade unions in Europe from 26 countries, said: “We demand that politics be left aside and that decisions on security be prioritized. It makes no sense for the Ertzaintza to be included, while the Mossos are not. Both police bodies are comprehensive and have the same powers, in terrorism as well as in organized crime”.
The controversy comes just a few days after another disagreement between the Catalan and Spanish government over security. Barcelona revealed its plans to hire 500 new Mossos d’Esquadra officers earlier this month and Madrid immediately questioned the decision. Its Treasury ministry stated that according to the Budget Law, only 50 new positions can be offered, but Catalan officials plan to go ahead with the hiring anyway.