On Thursday, the day the Spanish government began the process of imposing direct rule over Catalonia — known as Article 155 — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy arrived in Brussels for the EU Council summit, seeking support from the European Union‘s 27 other leaders. And support he got: the leaders sided firmly with Madrid. European Council President Donald Tusk said: “There is no space for a [European] intervention.” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said: “Nobody in the EU recognizes the independence of Catalonia.”
“Resounding message from Europe in favor of a united Spain,” El País reported. In a story about a lottery company moving its head office from Catalonia to elsewhere in Spain, the paper led with: “Even luck moves its headquarters.” El Mundo led with: “Rajoy received help from Macron and Merkel in the European Council,” after the French president and German chancellor sided with Madrid over the question of Catalonia’s secession.
The Catalan press also got the message. El Periódico de Catalunya led with: “PP [Popular Party] and PSOE [Socialist Party] activate 155 with the endorsement of the EU.” El Punt Avui’s headline: “Rajoy presses the button.”
“The Catalan crisis peppers the European summit,” led French-speaking Le Soir. The paper also reported on a rift between Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and other EU leaders, after Michel made comments deemed to favor the Catalans earlier in the crisis. Michel appeared to walk back the comments Thursday, calling only for dialogue. Financial paper De Tijd reported on Brexit with the headline: “Merkel and Macron tell May to wait,” as EU leaders prepared to state that not enough progress had been made in Brexit talks to allow negotiations to move to phase two — the future EU-U.K. relationship. French-speaking financial paper L’Echo led with: “The Catalan crisis invites itself to the European summit.” The paper also reported that 42,000 Belgian jobs are under threat as a result of Brexit.
Le Monde reported on some newly published letters by novelist Vladimir Nabokov to his wife, and “The 570 shantytowns that France doesn’t want to see.” Le Figaro led with Madrid’s decision to invoke Article 155.
“David draws up plans for no deal on Brexit talks,” led the Times, while the Telegraph’s headline blared: “Give me a deal to defend, May implores EU.” The Financial Times: “May seeks Brexit help at EU summit.”
“Madrid wants to take over power in Catalonia,” Die Welt reported. Frankfurter Allgemeine also featured the story on its front page, running an editorial titled: “Spain in crisis.” Left-leaning Süddeutsche Zeitung led with: “Catalonia to lose its autonomy.”
Italy’s front pages focused on the spat between Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and his predecessor Matteo Renzi over the reappointment of the country’s top central banker. In an unprecedented attack that has rattled Italy’s main political institutions, the former prime minister and leader of the ruling center-left Democratic Party (PD) made a surprise parliamentary move earlier this week to derail the reappointment of Ignazio Visco as head of the Bank of Italy to a second six-year term.
Corriere Della Serra led with: “Renzi-Gentiloni, high tension.” La Repubblica led with: “Bank of Italy, the secret PD revolt.”
Giulia Paravicini contributed to this report