Only Poland and Romania back Spain in preliminary rulings against Puigdemont at CJEU

Belgium also defends the rulings of its own courts

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Carles Puigdemont (centre) after being released from prison in Sardinia

BarcelonaSpain already has partners to defend its position in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the preliminary rulings against former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and the other exiles. Romania and Poland are the only EU states that have backed Spanish Supreme Court magistrate Pablo Llarena, who questions the ability of Belgian judges to refuse to extradite former minister Lluís Puig and, by assimilation, to other exiles in Belgium. As advanced by La Razón and confirmed by sources of the defence, these two countries are interested in the case, as is Belgium, although for opposite reasons: it supports the criterion of its own courts.

It is customary for the CJEU to open to European states the possibility of appearing in the cases of preliminary rulings that try to clarify the interpretation of European laws, in this case of the scope of European arrest warrants: Llarena questions that the Belgian courts can assess who is competent to present a European arrest warrant. In the case of Puig, extradition was ruled out because, as he has no parliamentary immunity, the two Belgian instances that assessed the case concluded that it should not be the Supreme Court but a court of first instance that should present the European arrest warrant.

The Belgian courts are not the only ones that since 2017 have rejected extradition processes of Catalan exiles. Germany did it with Puigdemont, the United Kingdom with Ponsatí and, recently, Italy, when Puigdemont visited Alghero. Although this last case is not yet closed – it is suspended, precisely, pending the resolution of the CJEU – Italy has not considered it appropriate to appear in the preliminary questions that have to be resolved in the Luxembourg Court.