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Catalan police to be granted access to Europol’s data from September

Spain’s Home Secretary, Juan Ignacio Zoido, asks all political parties to sign the Anti-terror Pact as a symbol of Spain’s “unequivocal” unity

The Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalonia’s police force] will be granted access to Europol’s information starting in September. The Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia made the announcement this morning during a radio interview on RAC1 and it was later confirmed by the Spanish Home Secretary, Juan Ignacio Zoido, who added that the decision would be implemented “soon”. The Spanish minister made the remark during a press conference held after a meeting of Spain’s Anti-terror Pact, with representatives from all Catalan parties in attendance for the first time.

Carles Campuzano, the PDCat spokesman in the Spanish parliament, explained that Mr Zoido has pledged that the Mossos will have access to Europol’s information “in a matter of weeks”. The Catalan authorities had been demanding this ever since the Mossos took over from the Spanish police in 2008 as the main law enforcement agency in Catalonia. Last month Mr Zoido had agreed to it, after calling the first meeting of Catalonia’s Security Council in nine years, but gave no specifics on the subject.

Catalonia’s ERC and PDECat parties insisted on their demand during Monday’s meeting, which they attended merely as observers. Campuzano insisted that “it is essential that the Security Council agreement —whereby the Mossos will gain access to anti-terror information on a European level— be implemented without delay”. ERC spokesman Joan Tardà made the same point: “The Spanish government must act on its promise to give the Mossos access to Europol”.

Zoido praises coordination, political unity
Partido Popular and Ciudadanos ask all political parties to join the Pact

A united front to fight terror. This the the central message that all the representatives of the political parties sent after the meeting of the Anti-terror Pact in Madrid. Mr Zoido emphasised that “political and technical liaising has been ongoing and close” and he praised the ability of the political parties to “set aside their differences” to tackle the situation. Nevertheless, the Spanish minister stressed that the best way to illustrate “the unequivocal unity of all of Spain against terror” would be for the parties that have not signed the Pact yet to do so in the next meeting.

All political parties underscored the need to remain united and praised the work done so far, including the Catalan representatives who attended the meeting as observers. The ERC spokesman in Madrid, Joan Tardà, said that “this is not the time to bring up our differences but to present a united front and show respect for the victims”.

Still, while all parties praised and called for unity, some stressed the need to widen the Pact and include the political parties that have not joined it yet. Spain’s Anti-terror Pact was conceived in 2015 by the two main Spanish parties, the Partido Popular and the PSOE, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. At the time, only Ciudadanos, UPyD and Unió signed the agreement and that is why the representatives of the PDECat, ERC, Podemos and the PNB attended Monday’s meeting merely as observers. Mr Zoido explained that he had asked them to join the Pact, a demand that was seconded by Ciudadanos, whose spokesman (José Manuel Villegas) remarked that “greater commitment is in order” with a Pact that should not be “just a picture of unity”. The PP’s spokesman in the Spanish parliament, Rafael Hernando, followed suit and “encouraged” the political groups that sent observers on Monday to join the Pact, and he noted that “it would be positive for Spain” and that the pact’s unity and operational capacity must be strengthened. In contrast, the PSOE stated that having invited observers is sufficient, yet key to present a united front. PSOE spokesperson Margarita Robles emphasised that “we have set an example of coordination and cooperation”.

Observers do not budge
Podemos, ERC and PDECat dodge the issue

Nevertheless, none of the political parties that have not joined the Pact thus far have shown any intention of doing so. Podemos MP Rafa Mayoral and parliamentary spokesman Xavier Domènech thanked the Spanish executive for their transparency when sharing information and coordinating the various institutions. Still, they stressed the need to “secure political pluralism” and, therefore, feel that it is not the right time to join the Pact.

When asked whether ERC would sign the Pact, Joan Tardà replied that “today that is a secondary consideration and any answer I might give would distort the key message: today we all sat around the same table”. Campuzano voiced a similar sentiment when he remarked that “we will look into it at some point” but “not today”. Joan Baldoví, the spokesman for Compromís, gave the same answer.

On Monday Enric Millo, the Spanish government’s representative in Catalonia, joined minister Zoido in criticising those who “see the effects of a jihadist outrage as being part of a political debate” and he stated that “they do democracy a great disservice”. In fact, the Catalan government and its Spanish counterpart have set aside their differences following the Barcelona attack and have aimed to show a united front by means of events such as the one where Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy addressed the media from a Catalan ministry’s HQ in Barcelona city.

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