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'Our home is Europe': Catalan President

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'Our home is Europe': Catalan President
The President of Catalonia Artur Mas says Spain is no longer the main market for the region's goods and services. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP
12:24 CEST+02:00
The President of Catalonia has responded to European Commission comments that the region would have to leave the EU if it became an indepedent country by saying that Catalonia "feels good" being part of Europe and wants to stay.

"Our home is Europe and we feel good," said Catalonia's President Artur Mas on Monday.

The comments came after European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia stated that if a part of EU member state separates, "the segregated part is not an EU member".

"When Spain entered the EU and the common market in 1986, we Catalans had the feeling we were going home," said Mas, speaking in Castellserà, in Catalonia's Lleida province.

"We feel good in Europe, we want this to continue to be the case and we are doing what we need to do so that people understand that people have to be looked after" although "they have their own aspirations to liberty," the regional President said.

In a separate speech before business leaders, Mas highlighted that Catalonia businesses were "in the last two years" selling more products out of Spain than within the country.

While Mas recognized that Spain "continues to be an important market" it was no longer the region's number one market.

Catalonia was internationalizing in the same way that similarly sized EU countries like Finland, Belgium and Austria were doing, Mas argued.

"We are on the same path," the president of Catalonia President said. 

Half of all Catalans, or 49 percent, are in favour of independence for the region while just over a third, or 36 percent are against, according to a poll ran by centre-left daily El Pais earlier this month.

Spain's central government in Madrid is strongly opposed to the region's push for independence. 

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