Catalonia had been warned repeatedly by the European Union (EU) and Spain to ignore the result of the constitutionally-illegal vote last Sunday.
However the region’s leader has now confirmed independence will be declared – whether Spain or the EU like it or not.
Carles Puigdemont said the region’s rules stated a declaration of independence was the legal next step after the YES victory last week.
He said: “The declaration of independence, that we don’t call a ‘unilateral’ declaration of independence, is foreseen in the referendum law as an application of the results.
“We will apply what the law says.”
Madrid and the EU had first attempted to block the vote, which they say validates the Spanish constitution, and then invalidate the result.
But it appears Catalonia is moving quickly towards outright independence in a major blow to Brussels, who said the region will need to re-apply for bloc member status.
The Catalan government says more than 90 percent of people who voted in the referendum last Sunday voted in favour of independence from Spain.
The referendum was declared illegal by Spanish authorities and turnout was only 43 percent – due partly to aggressive and brutal police actions at polling stations.
More than 800 people were injured as armed police attempted to seize ballot boxes in chaotic scenes on election day.
It comes after hundreds of people took to the streets of Catalonia’s capital Barcelona to express their opposition to declaring independence from Spain – highlighting how divided the region is on the issue.
A crowd estimated by local police to number 350,000 waved Spanish and Catalan flags and carried banners saying “Catalonia is Spain” and “Together we are stronger”.
They poured into the city centre after politicians on both sides hardened their positions in the country’s worst political crisis for decades.
Losing Catalonia is almost unthinkable for the Spanish government.
It would deprive Spain of about 16 percent of its people, a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of its exports. Catalonia is also the top destination for foreign tourists, attracting about a quarter of Spain’s total.
The political stand-off has pushed banks and companies to move their headquarters outside Catalonia.
The board of Catalonia-based infrastructure firm Abertis will meet on Monday to discuss moving its head office elsewhere in Spain, a source familiar with the matter said.
Concern is growing in EU capitals about the impact of the crisis on the Spanish economy, the fourth largest in the euro zone, and on possible spillovers to other economies.
Some European officials are also worried that any softening in Spain’s stance towards Catalan independence could fuel secessionist feelings among other groups in Europe such as Belgium’s Flemings and Italy’s Lombards.