EFA Statement on the Lifting of Immunity from Catalan MEPs
We are deeply concerned with the European Parliament vote to lift the parliamentary immunity of Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí.
The lifting of parliamentary immunity sets a precedent for member states to use the European Parliament as a battleground for their personal grievances, undermining the democratic authority of the European Union as a whole.
Furthermore, a series of legal cases has established that Spain, and the Spanish Supreme Court, are not competent authorities to impartially judge the MEPs in question. The Brussels Court of Appeals has previously established that Lluís Puig, a former minister of the Catalan Government now in exile, could not be impartially judged by the Spanish Court. The Court opposed his extradition to Spain, arguing that if extradited to Spain, Mr Puig would not be treated impartially or in alignment with his rights as a European citizen.
EFA believes that the organisation of a peaceful referendum cannot constitute a crime. For the European Parliament to consider it as such is to set a precedent of support for an authoritarian justice system that persecutes democratic and peaceful political dissent.
However, the next steps represent hope. Belgian courts have blocked the extradition of Lluís Puig, due to the risk to his fundamental right to receive a fair trial. EFA is hopeful that similar proceedings for Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí will result in the same ruling.
The situation in Catalonia will only be resolved through open dialogue. The European Union now has a choice: bow to the pressures of member states that seek to undermine democratic justice, or prove to European citizens that the protection of their fundamental rights is at the heart of the European project.
EFA President Lorena Lopez de Lacalle expressed her concern with the situation. She stated:
‘With today’s vote, the European Parliament further undermines the EU’s international credibility on the protection of fundamental values.
Ahead of the Future of Europe Debate, EFA calls for a clear European legislative framework to regulate all European people’s right to decide and self-determine in the 21st century.’
Jordi Solé, Catalan and EFA MEP (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), also expressed his disappointment.
‘These 400 votes may permit the Spanish state to continue their judicial persecution, but they cannot stop democracy. We offer our full support and solidarity to our colleagues Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí.’