Puigdemont denounces politicisation of his immunity in European Parliament

Junts MEPs warn they will appeal against process irregularities and against final decision of plenary session before European courts

4 min
MEPs Clara Ponsatí, Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín at a press conference at the European Parliament.

Brussels"The decision was predictable, but that does not make it any less regrettable". This is how the former president Carles Puigdemont reacted to Tuesday's vote in the Legal Affairs Committee in favor of withdrawing his, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí's parliamentary immunity. The Junts MEP criticised the politicisation of the entire processing of the request after parliamentarians of the PP, Cs and Vox celebrated the result of the vote and the irregularities that, according to Puigdemont, there have been throughout the process. Junts MEPs say they will continue "fighting" until the end, referring to the vote in the plenary in two weeks that will have to confirm the decision, but acknowledge that "the most likely" is that the plenary will end up withdrawing their immunity. They have already warned that they will appeal against the final decision and the irregularities in the process before the European justice system: "The battle continues outside the European Parliament"

"They have been able to see the reaction of satisfaction of fascist party Vox, the PP and Cs, which demonstrates the political nature of the procedure," said the former president president. The reactions after the vote were interpreted as further proof of the politicisation of the request. After the result of the secret vote was known (15 votes in favour, 8 against and 2 abstentions), the president of the committee, Adrián Vázquez, from Ciudadanos, issued a video statement in which he said: "We have fulfilled what we promised, the process has not been a circus, we have achieved that the process was done with all guarantees, all transparency. One more demonstration that in the European Parliament the rules are complied with" .

So did Vox MEP Jorge Buxadé, who celebrated the "great day" in which the report written by his "colleague", the ultraconservative Bulgarian MEP Angel Dzhambazki, was approved. Ciudadanos leader Inés Arrimadas and PP leader Pablo Casado also tweeted celebrating the vote. In the case of the PP, its two MEPs who are members of the Legal Affairs Committee, Esteban González Pons and Javier Zarzalejos, issued a statement in which they valued the decision "very positively". "The three MEPs are today a little closer to being put at the disposal of Spanish justice," they said

But the result of yesterday's vote means that the bloc calling itself constitutionalist fragmented, because they did not reach the 18 votes that would have been obtained if the popular, socialist, liberal and ultra-conservative groups had voted united in line with their Spanish colleagues. After the vote, the Spanish socialist member of JURE, Ibán García de Blanco, assured that both he and Marcos Ros (the other Spanish socialist with voting rights in this committee) voted in favour of the request. He did not assure, however, that the other non-Spanish MEPs from his political family on the committee would have done the same. Both Green and United Left MEPs with voting rights in this committee voted against the request. Sergey Lagodinsky, of the Greens, picked up Vox's tweet to claim that the judicial process against Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín is politicised: "I do not agree with Puigdemont on many issues, but his trial is politicised and disproportionate".

A dilemma for Europe

Junts are aware that in the face of the plenary, when all 705 MEPs have to vote on the lifting of his immunity, it is most likely that the result of JURE will be repeated, but they pose the vote as "a dilemma" that Europe has to face: "Europe has to choose between democracy or silence in front of the drift of the Spanish state. This leads Europe to lose moral authority that it had preserved before the international community", said the ex minister Toni Comín, who denounced the "Spanish over-representation" in the Legal Affairs Committee.

One of the main arguments of the three pro-independence Junts MEPs is that they suffer "political persecution", which is one of the principles for which parliamentary immunity is intended. However, the three reports of the rapporteur approved on Tuesday reject it outright: "The European Parliament has not found any evidence of fumus persecutionis" says a short seven-page document. On Junts' other main argument, the competence of the Supreme Court in the issuance of Euro-orders, the text ensures that the European Parliament has no "power" to question the competence of national authorities in the case "and refers to the communication that the Spanish authorities have made in the European Parliament in this regard. "The accusation has nothing to do with the position of Carles Puigdemont as an MEP, but with his former position of president of the Generalitat", says the report, which adds that "it cannot be affirmed that the judicial procedure was initiated with the intention of hindering the future political activity of Carles Puigdemont as a member of the European Parliament".

And, although they assure that they will work until the last day to convince MEPs of all political parties to vote against removing their immunity, Junts already has its sights set on European justice, where they plan to file an appeal in addition to a lawsuit against the irregularities they identify throughout the process. The most "logical" move, said Comín, is to wait for the plenary vote to present the appeal to the Luxembourg-based court and ask for precautionary measures so that the Euro-orders are not immediately reactivated in Belgium and Scotland. At the same time, they have trust in the justice system of these two countries after Belgium refused to extradite ex minister Lluís Puig.