Puigdemont became the president of Catalonia, a prosperous region in northeastern Spain that has a long history of pro-independence sentiment, in January, succeeding independence figure Artur Mas in the role.
Politics in the region involves a mix of differing views on EU membership. A "Junta pel Sí" (Together for Yes) group is a coalition of center-right and center-left parties (including Puigdemont's Democratic Convergence of Catalonia (CDC) party). Crucially they want the prosperous region to stay in the EU. However, other parties such as the far-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) do not. Nonetheless, all parties campaign in favor of Catalan independence and a "sustainable and peaceful" separation from Spain.
When Puigdemont took up the role of president, he pledged to start the process of setting up an independent Catalan state but that drew anger from other quarters in Spain, not least of all with the Madrid-based government itself with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy calling the plans to secede Spain a "provocation."
For its part, the EU has said that it should not be taken for granted that an independent Catalonia could even stay in the EU as It does not want to set a precedent for other separatist movements in Europe.
"To be honest, I am very worried about the possibility of the U.K. leaving the EU. But of course, like in the case of Catalonia, we have to respect the right to decide of the British people on a relationship that part of the Brits consider is not satisfying enough. We will see what happens."