Peumans, who is a member of the New Flemish Alliance, which strives for the region's independence, wrote a letter to the former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell in early September. In his letter, the Flemish politician called the actions of Madrid in connection with the Catalan referendum on independence "anti-democratic violence." He also said that "the central government of Spain does not fulfill the conditions for membership in the European Union."
Strong Speaker of Flemish Parliament Jan Peumans on @radio1be: “I stand by what I said: Spanish authorities injured 800 Catalan voters and still keep political prisoners. This is unworthy of a democratic constitutional state. @NVA_EU https://t.co/r089Didq37— Mark Demesmaeker (@markdemesmaeker) September 26, 2018
According to the Vanguardia newspaper, Belgian Ambassador Marc Calcoen assured the representatives of the Spanish Foreign Ministry that "the foreign policy of Brussels is determined by the federal government, and not by the speaker of the Flemish parliament."
The row took place after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez stated that he had no plans to negotiate a new referendum on Catalonia's independence, especially during his talks with Catalan leader Torra. Earlier that month, the new Catalan government, led by Torra, officially took power, ending Madrid's direct rule over the region.