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Brussels, the heart of the Catalan crisis

Belgium Since former Catalan regional President Carles Puigd..


Since former Catalan regional President Carles Puigdemont’s arrival in Belgium, the focus of the independence movement — and those who oppose it — has moved to Brussels, De Morgen reports. On Tuesday, 200 pro-independence Catalan mayors will meet at the BOZAR in Brussels. The same day, Empresaris de Catalunya, an industrial lobby group, will be at the European Parliament arguing against independence. De Morgen also noted that Assemblea Nacional Catalana and Omnium — the two grassroots organizations whose leaders are currently in jail — will stage pro-independence demonstrations in Brussels next month.

Francophone paper Le Soir seemed sick of it all, calling Belgium’s response to the Catalan crisis a “brouhaha.” The paper, along with financial daily De Tijd, reported on the Paradise Papers, focusing on the fact sporting goods company Nike paid very little in taxes to the Belgian government.


Left-leaning Libération reported on toxic chemicals in the air and ground that may be the cause of several thousand deaths in France every year. “Toxic state” was the headline. Le Monde reported on the Paradise Papers, noting €350 billion is being offshored in order to evade taxes. Right-leaning Le Figaro reported on the French right wing regrouping after being handed double defeats in the presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year: “After failure, the ideas of the right to be revived.”


Angela Merkel shut down the idea of heading back to the polls after Free Democrat leader Christian Lindner hinted at the possibility of another election if coalition talks between the chancellor’s Christian Democrats, his FDP and the Greens fail over immigration policy. The Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported on Merkel’s warning against an election re-run. Right-leaning Die Welt reported that rejected asylum seekers are rarely deported. Left-leaning Tageszeitung also reported on Nike’s tax affairs with a headline playing on the company’s slogan: “Just don’t do it.”


Much of the British press focused on local celebrities implicated in the Paradise Papers, including Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton and the cast of the BBC’s Mrs Brown’s Boys. Tabloid Daily Mirror called them “parasites.” The Metro and the Daily Express reported on Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn calling on the queen to apologize for having £10 million in offshore accounts — with the Express calling Corbyn “outrageous” for doing so.


“The left revisits its old ties with nationalism,” El País reported, alleging that leftists are looking for a “new constitutional patriotism” in the wake of the Catalan crisis. El Mundo reported that the European Parliament had blocked Puigdemont from using its building or resources while he’s in Belgium. Pro-independence paper El Punt Avui featured a timeline of “key days” on its front page: Coalitions for the Catalan regional election will be presented Tuesday; the Catalan parliament president will be summoned Thursday; on Saturday, protestors will hold a demonstration in support of jailed activists and former government minsters; and Puigdemont will face a hearing in Belgium November 17.

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