In a written reply to Spanish MEP Beatriz Becerra, who had asked about Europe's position on the question of Catalan separatism in June, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has said that "respecting the rule of law and the limits it imposes on those in government is not a choice but an obligation".

The constitutional frameworks of individual member states, he writes: "are part of the legal framework of the European Union".

"Their respect must be guaranteed at all times."

"Any action against the constitution of a Member State is an action against the European Union's legal framework."

"This is precisely because the rule of law is the backbone of modern, pluralist societies and constitutional democracies. Respecting the rule of law and the limits it imposes on those in government is not a choice but an obligation."

He reiterated that "the constitutional arrangements of Spain are an issue for the Spanish authorities and the Spanish people" and that the long standing position of different European institutions is that if part of the territory of a member state secedes, "it would become a new independent state, the Treaties would no longer apply to that territory".

The newly independent Catalan republic, were the situation to reach that stage, would be regarded as a third country for Europe.