Catalonia’s parliament is debating the regional government’s push for independence, a day before Spain is expected to reassert control.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont opted not to call regional elections as a way of breaking the deadlock with Madrid, asking MPs to discuss the way forward.
The Spanish government plans to strip Mr Puigdemont of his powers.
The Senate in Madrid is expected to approve the move on Friday under Article 155 of the constitution.
Large crowds gathered outside the regional government building in Barcelona, ahead of Mr Puigdemont’s much-anticipated statement.
Many hoped that he would declare independence. But there has also been speculation that he might call regional elections in a effort to avoid rule from Madrid.
However Mr Puigdemont did neither. “I have been prepared to call elections, as long as guarantees are given,” he said.
He added that Spain’s governing Popular Party had not given such assurances – without giving any details.