The Latest: EU rules out mediating Catalonia secession issue

The Latest on Catalonia's plans to hold a referendum Sunday on breaking away from Spain (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

European Union officials have ruled out helping to mediate the clash between Spain's government and Catalan officials over Catalonia's upcoming independence referendum.

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said at an EU summit in Estonia on Friday that the dispute is "a Spanish problem in which we can do little. It's a problem of respecting Spanish laws that Spaniards have to resolve."

Catalan officials, including the mayor of Barcelona, have asked the EU to mediate the tense standoff ahead of Sunday's planned vote that Spanish authorities say is illegal.

Tajani says the EU is maintaining its support of Spain's government because "on a legal level, Madrid is right."

He says: "I think it's important to talk on a political level after Monday."

The EU has said Catalonia will be ejected from the bloc, if it declares independence.

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1:40 p.m.

Catalonia's vice president says more than six out of ten voters are expected to cast ballots during the region's independence referendum despite the Spanish government's aggressive efforts to stop the vote.

Oriol Junqueras said Friday that Catalan citizens will be able to vote on Sunday "even if somebody takes voting stations by assault and tries to avoid something as natural as placing a voting slip in a ballot."

Spain's Constitution says that only the nation's government can call a referendum on sovereignty. Police forces acting on judges' orders have seized ballots and arrested regional officials in an unprecedented crackdown.

Junqueras says an internal poll showed that more than 60 percent of the 5.3 million eligible voters plan to cast ballots.

He displayed a prototype of the plastic ballot boxes planned for more than 2,300 voting stations.