Initially loathe to talk publicly about what is very much an internal matter of the Kingdom of Spain and the autonomous community of Catalonia, the European Union is increasingly stepping up to speak against Catalan secession, and against allowing the vote in general.
Most EU officials are couching this as support for “Spanish unity,” and/or general stability, while EU President Jean-Claude Juncker warned an independent Republic of Catalonia would not be part of the European Union is they split of from Spain.
It’s not so much that all of these nations have specific interests in not seeing an independent Catalonia. Rather, the broad fear within the Union is a precedent of a European country seeing an orderly-ish secession.
Spain is far from the only nation within the EU with active secessionist movements. Spain alone has a dozen movements, and while there are a lot of movements with minuscule support, Catalonia proving it can happen will give a lot of these movements across Europe a shot in the arm.
At the very least a yes vote in Catalonia means movements in places like Venice and Flanders are going to insist on votes. In the long run, any number of other votes could be organized. Which is why the EU doesn’t just want the vote to fail, the EU wants the vote not to happen at all.
Whether that’s realistic or not remains to be seen. Spain’s increasingly aggressive crackdown is not, Catalan leaders insist, going to stop the vote taking place. And if anything, that aggression seems to be adding to secessionist sentiment within Catalonia, meaning the “yes” side will continue to grow throughout the next week.