The Catalan delegate in the European Union, Meritxell Serret, announced on Monday that she is resigning from her post in order to take up her role as an MP with the pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana. She was picked as representative in the 14 February election, after having been included in Esquerra’s list of candidates at the eleventh hour.
Shortly before the vote, the current foreign minister, Bernat Solé, was disqualified for holding public office for his role as mayor of Agramunt during the 2017 self-determination referendum. Although he can appeal the decision, the Esquerra party said the judicial ruling did affect his bid to become MP, so he was replaced on the list by Serret.
Yet, Serret has been in exile in Brussels ever since the Catalan parliament declared independence in October 2017, and it is yet to be seen how the fact that she is not in the country will affect her status of MP – in some parts of the past term, some MPs were either in exile or in pre-trial prison.
No extradition request
Unlike other exiled leaders such as Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, and Clara Ponsatí, Serret was not included in the European arrest warrants on Catalan leaders issued by Spain in the wake of the Catalan referendum trial verdict in October 2019, so she is not currently facing any extradition request.
She faced two in the past, one of which withdrawn by Spain’s Supreme Court in December 2017 to avoid rejection by Belgium’s courts, and the second dismissed by Belgium for “formal errors.”
However, if she returned to Catalonia, she could be arrested after being indicted for the referendum case over the charges of disobedience and also misuse of public funds, something that might carry a prison sentence.
After three years
Serret has served as a delegate in the EU for almost three years, and the current director-general of the Catalan global affairs department, Miquel Royo, will take over temporarily until a new representative is named. In a letter, the former agriculture minister said that she has tried to forge relationships of trust between Catalonia and Europe.
Also exiled former minister Lluís Puig will become MP for JxCat in the new term – Belgium denied Spain’s third attempt to extradite him in January –, but not former president Carles Puigdemont, who also gained a seat in the February 14 election but prioritizes his post as MEP.
If Puig returned to Catalonia, he could also be arrested because, like Serret, he was indicted for the 2017 independence vote over the charges of disobedience and misuse of public funds, something that might carry a prison sentence.