October 10, 2017 / 9:03 AM / in 13 days

EU's centre-right finance ministers back Spain in Catalan crisis: Spain

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Europe’s centre-right finance ministers support Spain’s central government in dismissing a contested independence referendum in the country’s Catalonia region, Spain’s finance minister said.

While the issue was not on the official agenda of meetings on Monday and Tuesday in Luxembourg, Spain’s finance minister Luis de Guindos said the Catalan crisis was discussed at an informal breakfast meeting of finance ministers belonging to the European People’s Party.

The Spanish government considers the referendum illegal and says Catalonia has no constitutional backing to declare independence.

“All supported the position of the Spanish government,” de Guindos told reporters. “I am sure that also Socialist and Liberal colleagues will support us.”

Regional leader Carles Puigdemont is due to address Catalonia’s regional parliament on Tuesday afternoon and Madrid is worried it will vote for a unilateral declaration of independence.

While losing Catalonia would have a significant impact on Spain, as the region makes up a fifth of the country’s economic output and more than a quarter of its exports, some fear it will also impact the euro zone economy as a whole.

“I hope this will not flash over into a crisis for the euro and the EU,” said Austrian finance minister Hans Joerg Schelling. “But there is a danger that extreme positions collide.”

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek and Francesco Guarascio; editing by Ralph Boulton

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