Agence France-Presse

The European Commission says it has not changed its position on the Catalonia crisis after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy moved to take back powers from the region.

Separatists have repeatedly called on the EU to weigh in and broker negotiations since violent police clashes marred the 1 October independence referendum, deemed illegal by Madrid and the courts.

Those calls were heightened on Saturday when Mr Rajoy announced that he would attempt to dissolve the regional government and force elections within six months by invoking Article 155 of Spain’s constitution.

Despite this, the European Commission has said its position “is well known” and it continues to “respect the constitutional and legal arrangement of Spain”.

A spokesperson added that Mr Rajoy’s attempt to use Article 155 was “to be seen within that constitutional context”.

Earlier, Catalan foreign affairs minister Raul Romeva insisted that the EU should act to prevent the move.

“How can the European Union live with that situation [if this happens]?” he told BBC Radio 4. “How can the EU democracy survive and how can they be credible if they allow this to happen?

“Because what I can tell you is that the people and the institutions in Catalonia will not let this happen.”

Catalonia’s regional parliament is set to hold a meeting on Thursday and reports suggest it will be used to stage a vote on declaring independence from Spain.

A day later, Mr Rajoy’s request to trigger Article 155 will go to a vote in the upper house of Spain’s parliament.

The previously unused statute allows central authorities to intervene when one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont described the move to take back powers as the “worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco”.

He added that Mr Rajoy had set out to “humiliate” Catalonia in an “attack on democracy”.

On Monday, separatist party Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) called for Catalans to participate in “mass civil disobedience”.

Meanwhile, pro-independence students are organising protests at Catalan universities for Thursday to urge regional officials to declare independence.

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