SPAIN and the EU breathed a sigh of relief as Catalan’s leader pulled back from declaring immediate independence.

Instead, Carles Puigdemont reiterated the region’s right to break from Spain following this month’s referendum, when 90% of 2.4 million Catalans voted to leave.

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Switching between Catalan and Spanish in parliament, Puigdemont proposed dialogue with Madrid after ten days of mounting tension.

“We propose to suspend the effect of the independence declaration in order to work towards putting into practice the result of the referendum.

“We are making a gesture of responsibility in favour of dialogue.”

He added: “The ballots say Yes to independence this is the will that I want to go forward with.

“At this historical moment I want to follow people’s will for Catalunya to become an independent state.”

He also called for international mediation to address the independence crisis.

Puigdemont’s speech came amid one of the gravest political crisis in decades, with 900 injured after heavy-handed police tactics during the referendum.

Two of Spain’s largest banks, Sabadell and CaixaBank, as well as Gas Natural, decided to shift their base from the north-eastern region with over €78 billion of business shifting their headquarters from Catalunya.

A pro-union protest in Barcelona last weekend was attended by 350,000 demonstrators.