Catalonia votes to start breakaway process from Spain
Catalonia's regional parliament has approved a plan to set up a road map for independence from Spain by 2017, in defiance of the central government.
The Barcelona-based chamber passed the motion by 72 votes to 63.
The proposal was tabled by pro-secession politicians from the Together For Yes alliance and the extreme left-wing Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP). The groups together obtained a parliamentary majority in regional elections in September.
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy previously vowed to take legal action against the Catalan parliament if it was to approve the secession plan.
Mr Rajoy is scheduled to speak later on Monday.
The motion, passed by the parliament in its first post-election session, declared "the start of a process towards the creation of an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic" and a "process of democratic disconnection not subject to the decisions by the institutions of the Spanish state".
Separatist politicians stood up and applauded the victory that will likely put them on a collision course with the central government and Spain's highest court.
Raul Romeva, head of the Together For Yes alliance, said at the start of the session: "There is a growing cry for Catalonia to not merely be a country, but to be a state with everything that means. Today we don't only open a new parliament, this marks a before and after."
Catalan branches of Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party and the Socialist and the Citizens opposition parties had filed appeals to halt the vote, but Spain's constitutional court ruled last Thursday that it could go ahead.
Citizens regional leader Ines Arrimadas told separatist politicians: "You want to divide a country by raising a frontier within the European Union."