IN his first ever speech to MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 7, King Felipe VI went to considerable length to point out that Spain was both ‘diverse and united,’ clearly in reference to the recent election results in Catalonia.
The speech was delivered in commemoration of Spain having been a member of the EU for 30 years and in a long presentation to the Parliament, he said: “It is not possible to consider a Spain without Europe, or a Europe without Spain. I am European because I am Spanish.”
Tellingly, a number of Spanish MEPs from the United Left, the Galician Left Alternative, the Republican Left of Catalonia and the Basque nationalist EHBildu party left the hall before he started speaking.
“We didn’t attend the plenary session of the European Parliament because Felipe is not legitimate,” Marina Albiol from the United Left told journalists. She added that; “the European Parliament should represent European democracy and should have closed its doors to those who have not been democratically elected.”
During the speech, the king also touched on the matter of refugees, saying: “There are hundreds of thousands of refugees now coming into Europe full of hope because they see Europe as an area of peace, justice and prosperity.
“We can’t let these people down. We can’t disappoint them. We have to be generous,” the king said in a speech that stressed the need to live up to the EU’s democratic values. “We have to show them solidarity and we have to be responsible in this situation,” he added but made no mention of the fences erected around Ceuta and Melilla although he did offer to share Spain’s knowledge of dealing with the problem with other member states.
In a speech of welcome, made in Spanish by the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, he said; “Europe has contributed to a better and stronger Spain and Spain has contributed, at the same time, to make Europe a better and stronger place.”