Spain PM approves taking back powers from Catalonia

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is meeting his cabinet to set out specific powers it plans to seize from Catalonia.

They can destroy everything they want but we'll keep on fighting'.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Cabinet was meeting to outline the scope and timing of the measures the government plans to take under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

In a televised announcement, Carles Puigdemont said Madrid was failing to respect the rule of law after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced he would move to dismiss Catalonia's separatist executive, take control of regional ministries and call elections.

"Spain needs to face up to an unacceptable secession attempt on its national territory, which it will resolve through its legitimate democratic institutions", said the king, a ceremonial figure who had criticized Catalan leaders earlier this month.

Catalonia's administration now runs its own policing, education and healthcare.

"The main goal of these measures is a return to legality because there can not be a part of a country where law is not applied, where law doesn't exist", he said on Friday in Brussels at the end of an EU summit in which European leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron had offered him their support.

Autonomy is a hugely sensitive issue in semi-autonomous Catalonia, which saw its powers taken away under Spain's military dictatorship.

Madrid could also seek to force new elections - its preferred solution to Spain's most protracted political crisis since it returned to democracy in 1977 - as early as January.

But the upper house is majority-controlled by Rajoy's ruling Popular Party and he has secured the support of other major parties, meaning they will nearly certainly go through.

"Some are sowing discord by deliberately ignoring law", European parliament head Antonio Tajani said at the awards night in the northern city of Oviedo. Heavy-handed police tactics to shut down a an independence referendum on October 1 that the government had declared illegal drew criticism from human rights groups.

Forty percent of Catalonia's 5.5 eligible voters cast ballots in the referendum, despite a show of force by Spanish police that left almost 900 people injured ahead of the October 1 vote. Spain has the euro zone's fourth-largest economy and Catalonia accounts for a fifth of it.

'It's going to be like a colonial administration, and independence supporters will see it as an occupation'.

Madrid this week cut its national growth forecast for next year from 2.6 percent to 2.3 percent, saying the standoff was creating uncertainty.

  • Tracy Klein