Catalan crisis Belgium’s ‘nightmare,’ Spain ties at risk

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Catalan crisis is being called a “nightmare” and a “time bomb” for Belgium’s government.

The outlawed independence referendum in Catalonia hasn’t just sparked a political crisis in Spain. The flight of the region’s ousted president to Brussels is sowing divisions within the Belgian government and looks set to damage ties between the two European Union partners.

Even as Carles Puigdemont and his lawyer were questioned by an investigating judge on Sunday about his extradition, members of Belgium’s government, Belgian politicians and Spanish officials were trading barbs in the mainstream and social media.

Most vocal are members of the Flemish nationalist N-VA party — a key member of Belgium’s ruling coalition and whose separatist desires appear to have been inflamed by Puigdemont’s most recent drive for Catalan independence from Spain.