AT least 45,000 pro-Catalan independence protesters have taken to the streets of Brussels to support the controversial cause.
The march is a show of solidarity with exiled Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who is remaining in the Belgian capital through fear of being arrested on return to Spain.
It is also aimed at putting pressure on EU institutions to support the region’s cause.
Police figures suggest the protest was over twice as large as expected, with official predictions before the march forecasting 20,000 demonstrators.
Protestors carried Catalan flags, sang songs, and chanted ‘Wake up Europe’.
Others carried signs reading ‘Shame on you’ – a criticism of the EU’s support for Madrid.
Some locals who joined the march also carried the yellow lion-rampant flags of Flanders, the wealthy Dutch-speaking region of Belgium.
It also has a separatist movement and its secessionist parties are allies at the European level with Catalunya’s.
A European Arrest Warrant sought by the Spanish government was cancelled by a Spanish judge earlier this week after he ruled that Puigdemont was not applicable for one.