"We expect respect for democracy from the EU, for the votes of citizens and for democratic instruments, and a referendum is a democratic instrument," Junqueras said.
This sentiment was echoed by Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont as he addressed the EU parliament Tuesday, saying that Catalonia’s push for independence from Spain is a "European problem" and that the continent cannot "look the other way".
"We are members of the European Union, we are European citizens and this process to incorporate Catalonia in EU institutions has to be automatic… It would be an opportunity to make a stronger Europe, a stronger democracy," Junqueras said.
Puigdemont has announced the Catalonia will hold a binding referendum on the matter in September 2017. The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal.