BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Catalonia, a wealthy northeastern Spanish region that wants to hold an independence vote, must respect European treaties on territorial integrity, implying it may have to reapply for EU membership if it seceded.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Merkel said she and her Spanish counterpart had discussed the situation in Catalonia.
Catalonia’s president, Artur Mas, has called a regional election for Sept. 27 and is portraying it as a proxy vote on independence after Rajoy’s government blocked a referendum on the issue.
“We share the view that there are EU treaties by which we are all bound and these EU treaties guarantee the national integrity and sovereignty of every country,” Merkel said.
“That’s why it’s very important that the rule of law is respected both with regard to national and international law,” she added.
In 2014, when Scotland held an independence referendum, the EU’s executive Commission said any seceding region would no longer be part of the EU and would have to reapply for membership.
Polls have shown that fewer Catalans support independence if it means leaving the EU, of which Spain has been a member since 1986.
Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky