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Push for independence having a detrimental effect on Catalonia's largest banks

Source: wiki commons

As activity in the Spanish region continues to remain uncertain, the Spanish stock market has fallen, led by losses for the two main banks Caixabank and Banco Sabadell.

The government of Catalonia is continuing to push for independence from Spain, despite a Spanish court ordering the suspension of a Catalan parliamentary session.

Spanish leaders, meanwhile, want the European Union to take an active role in facilitating dialogue following EU calls for talks between the Catalan and Spanish governments.

The push for independence is also having a detrimental effect on some of Catalonia's largest banks.

Spain's Constitutional Court has ordered the suspension of a session to be held in the Catalan parliament on Monday (Oct 9).

In the session, Catalonia's government was going to declare independence from Spain following a banned independence referendum in the region.

Of the 42 per cent of Catalans who voted in the referendum last Sunday, (oct 1) 90 per cent voted to leave Spain.

The suspension order has further aggravated one of the biggest political crises to hit Spain in decades and has thrown the plan to declare independence into doubt.

The speaker of Catalonia's parliament, independence activist Carme Forcadell, says suspending the session violates freedom of expression.

(Spanish, then translated:) "The Constitutional Tribunal has suspended it, but it has suspended something before it was formally called for, before the order of the day was set. This puts at risk freedom of expression and the right of initiative of Members of Parliament. And it demonstrates, once again, that the courts are being used to resolve political problems."

The court says its order can be appealed.

But it has also warned Ms Forcadell and other members of the Speakers' board they could be prosecuted if they do not halt the session.

The Spanish People's Party leader in Catalonia, Xavier Garcia Albiol, says pro-independence supporters should take the opportunity to step back from their quest to declare independence.

(Spanish, then translated:) "We at the People's Party believe that this suspension is an ideal excuse for Junqueras and Puigdemont to stop and take a step back in their crazy adventure of declaring independence unilaterally."

EU officials are calling on both governments to hold talks, but they also say the Catalan government's bid for independence is an internal Spanish affair.

Catalonia president Carles Puigdemont has toned down his defiant stance and says he is happy to talk with the Spanish government.

The Spanish government says it wants talks, but only when the Catalan government respects its rule of law.

Now, the mayor of Barcelona has called on the European Union to take a more active role in facilitating dialogue between the two governments.

Mayor Ada Colau says a forum for dialogue is only possible with EU involvement.

(Spanish, then translated:) "We believe that the EU should take an active part and facilitate dialogue. That's the idea we have expressed, as, obviously, now we share the concern for the current situation. We need to create a forum for dialogue, and this platform for dialogue is only possible if there is European involvement -- not a formal mediation, but the European Commission could facilitate a multilayered task force."

And as activity in the Spanish region continues to remain uncertain, the Spanish stock market has fallen, led by losses for the two main banks Caixabank and Banco Sabadell.

Catalonia has a stronger economy than, for example, Greece or Portugal and is considered one of Spain's wealthiest regions.

Any major losses to the two banks could harm the Spanish economy.

Now, executives of Banco Sabadell are relocating the bank's base to Alicante, an area outside the Catalonia region.

The move is to protect the interests of the banks' customers and ensure legal protection under the umbrella of the European Central Bank.

ATL Capital investments director Ignacio Cantos says the banks are under pressure as Catalonia mulls over when to declare independence.

(Spanish, then translated:) "The financial sector is the most affected one, because it has debt in its portfolios and, therefore, it is affected by the increase of interest. In addition, there are two stock markets which have their social headquarters in Catalonia, Sabadell and la Caixa. Those have received a greater punishment for the uncertainty. Their accounts of results depend a lot on the activity in Catalonia."

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