On Tuesday night, the government of Catalonia signed, but suspended, a declaration of independence from Spain.
Led by Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, the north-eastern region held an independence referendum that was highly controversial and marred by violence.
The outcome, according to Catalan officials, was 90% in favour of yes – although this has been contested. The vote was declared unconstitutional and illegal by Spain’s central government and denounced by the European Union.
Had Puigdemont unilaterally declared independence, Madrid would have issued a warrant for his arrest. In fact, if Spain’s supreme court declares his ‘suspended’ declaration illegal, which is a possibility, the Catalan parliament, and the autonomy it grants the region, could be suspended.
One of Catalonia’s largest businesses is Seat. The Volkswagen Group brand has its headquarters and main factory in the town of Martorell, employing some 11,500 people, as well as other facilities in the Free Port in Barcelona. Seat achieved the best financial results in its history last year, with a turnover of €8.6bn (£7.7bn).
Martorell is the highest-volume production plant in Spain, producing around 2100 cars per day, with nearly 450,000 produced last year. These include Seat’s Seat Ibiza, Seat Leon and Arona and the Audi Q3. The next-generation Audi A1 is scheduled to be built there from 2018.