Catalan uncertainty paralysing regional investment, Spain's economy minister says

Lionel Messi

The Spanish government has suspended the Catalan parliamentary session planned for Monday in which a declaration of independence from Spain was expected to be made.

While the full economic impact of Catalonia's potential independence from Spain is impossible to predict, it would likely be a painful process for both parties - especially if it comes through a unilateral secession.

But the central government is unlikely to do so, arguing that such a move is unconstitutional.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government has meanwhile called on Catalonia to "return to the path of law" before any negotiations. "But, if someone declares independence, well we'd have to tell them that they can't".

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"The government will not negotiate over any illegal acts, nor will it be blackmailed", read an official statement released by the central government in Madrid.

In Wednesday's statement, Rajoy also condemned Puigdemont's criticism of King Felipe VI, who in a rare political speech on Tuesday said the Catalonian referendum organisers showed "disrespect to the powers of the state" and constitutional laws.

The European Union has urged dialogue to ease the standoff between separatists in the northeastern region and Madrid, but Catalan leaders said they could unilaterally declare independence as early as Monday.

Puigdemon accused King Felipe of Spain of standing in the way of mediation, which he says would have brought the country out of its current crisis.

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But the turnout was only around 43 percent, with those opposed to the vote abstaining.

The Madrid government has been taking a hard line against those who pushed the referendum, but current Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said he does not fear being arrested over his involvement, as Mr Mas was.

The constitutional crisis in Spain, the euro zone's fourth-biggest economy, has shaken the common currency and hit Spanish stocks and bonds, sharply raising Madrid's borrowing costs.

Spanish Justice Minister Rafael Catal√° said that the constitution of Spain gives the country the right to intervene and run a region, like Catalonia, if they declare independence.

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"It's time to talk, finding a way out of the impasse, working within the constitutional order of Spain", European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans told an emergency debate in the European Parliament. Catalonia's total population is around 7.5 million. The new Catalan state would also already be in debt, as Madrid and Barcelona would have to determine what percentage of Spain's sovereign debt Catalonia would inherit. Catalonia has its own language and culture and a political movement for secession that has strengthened in recent years. A Constitutional Court ruling is now in effect, forbidding any referendum from taking place. Spain's conservative government has said it will respond with "all necessary measures" to counter Catalan defiance, and is holding talks with opposition leaders to forge a consensus over what to do in response.

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