As the EU chamber opens on Tuesday, the seats of three elected Catalan MEPs remain empty. Yet the voice of the independence movement has reached Strasbourg, with thousands of Catalans who travelled to the French city to protest. According to local police, the rally gathered up 10.000 people.
Inside the Chamber, MEP Matt Carthy addressed president Tajani to defend the rights of Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras and Toni Comín:
Meanwhile, exiled president Carles Puigdemont is in Germany discussing with his lawyers whether to travel to Strasbourg and join the rally despite the “very high risk” of arrest. After Germany rejected extraditing the pro-independence leader for the crime of rebellion, Spain withdrew all international arrest warrants against exiled Catalan politicians. Yet a 2002 bilateral agreement with France could allow Spanish police to arrest Puigdemont on French soil.
European Court of Justice
The Court of Justice of the European Union will have its say after Spain excluded three Catalan leaders from the EU Parliament, including exiled president Carles Puigdemont and his jailed vice president, Oriol Junqueras. Puigdemont and Junqueras, the leaders of Catalonia’s two largest pro-independence parties, played a key role in supporting the 1 October 2017 independence referendum, with prosecutors now requesting prison sentences for the crime of rebellion.
While Spain’s Supreme Court didn’t allow Junqueras to take up the seat he won running in the recent European election from jail, Spanish authorities prevented Puigdemont and Antoni Comín from taking the oath of office while exiled in Belgium. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to query the EU’s top court on the extent of Junqueras’ parliamentary immunity, which he claims should apply since the moment he was elected, regardless of whether Spain confirmed his appointment or not.
On the same day, Puigdemont and Comín filed a lawsuit against the EU Parliament to the Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg, and demanded to be allowed to attend Tuesday’s plenary session and take up their seats. In a preliminary ruling, the EU court dismissed their petition to assume the posts but has yet to decide on the overall case.
Specifically, the court argues that Puigdemont and Comín have already filed an appeal to the Spanish courts for the requirement to take the oath and officially become MEPs, and that the case is still “pending.” Therefore, the court affirms that this question must be resolved “by national authorities”.