LUXEMBOURG: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday that he did not want Catalonia to become independent from Spain because it could trigger a separatist domino effect in the EU.
"If we allow Catalonia -- though it's not our business -- to separate itself from Spain, others will do the same. And I wouldn't like to have that," Juncker said in a speech to students in his native Luxembourg.
"I wouldn't like to have a European Union which consists of 98 states in 15 years' time. It's already relatively difficult at 28, no easier at 27 (after Britain leaves), but at 98, that seems impossible."
Brussels has so far tried to stay as neutral as possible in the dispute over Catalonia's indepenedence referendum, backing the position of key EU member state Spain that it was illegal, but calling for dialogue.
Juncker added that the EU "cannot involve itself into mediation" as Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has called for.