Pedro sanchez

Spain’s pardoning of Catalan separatists may backfire

In one of his adventures on the highways of 17th-century Spain, Don Quixote encounters a gang of prisoners ‘manacled and strung together by the neck, like beads, on a great iron chain’. Undeterred by Sancho’s protestations that these are criminals on their way to serve as galley slaves in just punishment for their crimes, Don Quixote, declaring that it is his duty as a knight errant to provide ‘succour for the wretched’, fights off the guards and frees them. In something of the same spirit, Spain’s prime minister has just announced a pardon for Catalan separatist leaders. Nine politicians, serving sentences of up to 13 years for offences including sedition,

Spain and Italy have been abandoned by the EU

If ever there was a time for the EU to show the benefit of belonging to an economic bloc with coherent cross-border cooperation you would think it would be now. But that is not quite how things are working out. On the contrary, the EU has erupted into open warfare between north and south. The rifts caused by the 2008/09 financial crisis have been torn open again, with Italy and Spain desperately pleading for help from a reluctant Germany and other northern countries. If anyone thought harmony would reign once troublesome Britain was out of the EU, there was not much evidence of it at a virtual summit held last week