Press Release: EFA’s Position on the Pardon of Catalan Leaders

EFA welcomes the needed pardons given to Catalan political prisoners, but insists there is still much more work to be done to fully ensure the will of the Catalan people is respected. 

The Spanish authorities approved the pardons of 12 Catalan independence leaders today, who were convicted over their roles in the Catalan independence referendum. EFA strongly believes there were no grounds for prosecution as the right to self-determination must be respected. 

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has said the pardons, which could be signed off by the cabinet on Tuesday, are needed to restore social and political coexistence and to help Spanish society “move from a bad past to a better future”.

However, EFA does not consider the pardons as a lasting solution. They do not give an answer to the will of the Catalan people. The Spanish authorities must ensure a general amnesty to end repression against Catalonia, and respect the Catalan people’s wish for a referendum. 

This is not only the position of EFA member party ERC, but is the will of the majority of Catalan society. As shown by recent electoral results, in which pro-independence parties won a majority of the vote, the people of Catalonia believe that the state should allow a referendum on independence to be held. 

EFA President Lorena López de Lacalle said: 

‘EFA welcomes the Spanish Government’s decision as a gesture of good will, which opens new perspectives to dialogue and negotiation to pave the way for a democratic solution of the Catalan issue.

EFA nonetheless insists that peaceful, democratic and political dissent cannot constitute grounds for political and judicial revenge entailing exile or jail sentences of political and civil society leaders. 

EFA will support all measures allowing for the will of the Catalan peoples to freely decide on their own future.’ 

EFA and ERC MEP Jordi Solé responded: 

‘It is a step to be welcomed, but the political conflict still exists and has to be resolved with dialogue towards a democratic solution, where Catalans can decide about our future. 

There are still many judiciary cases ongoing, leaders in exile, economic harassment from the court of auditors… for them the pardon won’t change anything: that’s why we demand amnesty.’

The right to self-determination is a universal human right and must be respected: not only in Catalonia, but across Europe. The Spanish authorities now have the choice to fully and freely respect the wishes of the Catalan people, and must choose to do so in order to resolve this political dispute.