Catalan secessionists are working towards a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain that could be adopted next week in defiance of a court order and increased economic pressure from Madrid.

After Spains Constitutional Court suspended a session of the Catalan regional parliament set for Monday, which had been expected to endorse an independence declaration, the parliament said pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont would address the assembly on Tuesday.

Madrid has apologised for police use of violence in trying to hinder a weekend referendum it had declared illegal.

A Catalan legislator was quoted by El Mundo newspaper as saying secessionist parties in the Catalan parliament were discussing an independence declaration to be submitted to the assembly next Tuesday.

Advertisement

The stakes are high for the eurozones fourth-largest economy. Catalonia is the source of a huge chunk of its tax revenue and hosts multinationals from car-maker Volkswagen to drugs firm AstraZeneca.

The Spanish government stepped up economic pressure on the Catalan government on Friday by passing a law to make it easier for companies to move their operations around the country, potentially dealing a blow to the regions finances.

Within hours CaixaBank, Spains third-biggest lender and Catalonias biggest company, said its board had decided to move its registered office to Valencia.

Gas Natural said its board had decided to move its registered office to Madrid for as long as the legal uncertainty in Catalonia continued, joining moves by several other companies.

Puigdemont has called for international mediation to break the impasse. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has offered all-party political talks to find a solution, opening the door to a deal giving Catalonia more autonomy, but only if the Catalan government gives up any independence ambitions.