Carles Puigdemont achieves key support to be recognized as an MEP – El Sol de México

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU, Maciej Szpunar, supported this Thursday the position of the Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont in the dispute over his non-recognition as an MEP in 2019.

After the elections in May of that year, the then president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, had refused to recognize Puigdemont and the Catalan leader Toni Comín as legislators.

Tajani had adopted that position because the electoral authorities in Spain claimed that Puigdemont and Comín had not sworn by the Spanish Constitution, a step they considered necessary to recognize them as Eurolegislators.

Puigdemont and Comín were exposed to arrest in Spain if they appeared to swear by the Constitution, following Catalonia’s frustrated declaration of independence in 2017.

Thus, on June 27, 2019, Tajani informed Puigdemont and Comín by letter that he could not recognize their status as MEPs because they were not considered as such by the Spanish authorities.

Puigdemont and Comín filed a lawsuit against Tajani’s decision before the General Court of the EU (TGUE), which rejected the motion, and prompted an appeal to the Court of Justice (CJEU, the highest European court).

On the other hand, Tajani’s successor, also Italian David Sassoli, recognized Puigdemont and Comín as Eurolegislators in December 2019 and assigned them a seat and a formal office to carry out their mandates.

This occurred following a decision that month by the European High Court in the case of Oriol Junqueras, another Catalan independence activist then imprisoned in Spain and whose status as an MEP was also not recognized by the Spanish authorities.

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The CJEU then considered that this type of procedure, such as the swearing in of the Constitution, was unnecessary to assume office and benefit from parliamentary immunity.

In Szpunar’s opinion, in the case of Puigdemont and Comín, Tajani “questioned the officially proclaimed electoral results,” by relying on “notifications from the Spanish authorities that did not faithfully and completely reflect those results.”

Furthermore, Szpunar pointed out, this “gave effect to the suspension of the prerogatives of Messrs. Puigdemont and Comín arising from their status as members of the European Parliament, in violation of Union law. [Europea]”.

The opinion of the Advocate General is not binding, but the judges of the high European court usually follow it in their decisions that arrive months later.

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