Catalan Leader Mas Says Spain Must Debate Its Euro Membership

Catalan President Artur Mas said Spain should debate staying in the euro as leaders consider seeking a European bailout, becoming the most senior Spanish official to question the nation’s single-currency membership.

“If we want to have a serious debate, the first question has to be whether we want to be in the euro or not,” Mas said at a conference in Madrid today, adding that Catalonia wants to remain in the single currency. “If you say yes, you have to accept the rules of this game. You could say no.”

Catalonia, which accounts for 20 percent of the nation’s economy and is home to some of the country’s biggest companies, is battling Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for greater control over taxes as austerity measures have undermined voters’ willingness to subsidize poorer regions. Mas raised the stakes this week, saying if Rajoy doesn’t give his administration in Barcelona greater autonomy, he’ll push for full independence.

Mas said Catalonia and Spain are “tired of each other” and said the push for a “nation state” is “coming from the street.” He estimated 1.5 million people demonstrated for independence at a protest this week.

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