EU court rejects Puigdemont’s appeal on 2019 European Parliament ban

EuroActiv Politico News

The General Court of the European Union on Wednesday rejected an appeal from Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín, the Catalan separatists who were temporarily banned from sitting as MEPs by the European Parliament.

The Luxembourg court ruled on a 2019 appeal from the politicians in exile, who after they were elected in the European election, were not recognized as incoming MEPs by the Parliament and its then-president, Antonio Tajani.

Puigdemont and Comín were not on the list of elected MEPs communicated by Madrid, as the Spanish electoral authority said election winners had to take an oath on the Spanish constitution in person. This was impossible for the politicians who were already facing arrest warrants in Spain over their role in Catalonia’s 2017 independence referendum. Both Puigdemont and Comín fled Spain for Brussels in 2017.

Back in 2019, Tajani said that the call was not his, and that his decision was made on the basis of the list shared by Spanish authorities. In its ruling on Wednesday, the court supported this view as it rejected Puigdemont and Comín’s appeal against the European Parliament. It is a matter of national law, the court said.

Tajani did not “have the power to review the validity of the exclusion of certain elected candidates from the list which was officially communicated by the Spanish authorities on 17 June 2019 … since that list reflected the official results of the elections of 26 May 2019 as established, where necessary, after any disputes raised on the basis of national law had been dealt with,” the ruling noted.

The defeat is mostly symbolic for the two MEPs, who were allowed on the Parliament premises in December 2019 after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in favor of another Catalan MEP, Oriol Junqueras.

Other rulings from Luxembourg will be more consequential for the fate of Catalan separatists in exile. This year, the CJEU is expected to provide clarification on whether Belgium’s decision to refuse the extradition of Lluis Puig, another politician, is legal.

It will also rule on whether Puigdemont, Comín and Clara Ponsatí, another Catalan lawmaker who fled Spain after the failed referendum, should have their parliamentary immunity restored permanently. Their immunity was temporarily reinstated by the same court last May.