Three Catalan separatist leaders – Puigdemont, Junqueras, and Comín – that were elected as Members of the European Parliament will take Spain to the EU Court of Justice. In the meantime, thousands of Catalan protestors travelled to Strasbourg for a protest on Tuesday, the first day of session after the May 2019 elections.
The three separatist leaders cannot or will not take an oath in Spain before taking office. Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is in exile in Belgium, avoiding arrest for rebellion, while his former vice president Oriol Junqueras is imprisoned.
Both leaders are wanted for their role in organizing the 2017 secession referendum, declared illegal by Spanish justice. Germany rejected Puigdemont’s extradition, as rebellion is not recognized as a crime, and Spain withdrew all international arrest warrants. Antoni Comin is also evading arrest in Belgium. The two can only be arrested if they return to Spain.
The Spanish Supreme Court now awaits an opinion by the EU Court of Justice on whether Jounqueras’ parliamentary immunity applies even before the MEP take the oath required by all Spanish legislators, national and European.
In the case of Puigdemont and Junqueras, a preliminary EU ruling suggests that Spanish justice must first determine how binding is the oath required to become an MEP before the EU court opines.
The ongoing secessionist crisis, combined with the absence of a stable government in Madrid two months after the April 28 elections has a profound economic impact for Catalonia. Catalan separatists are reluctant to support a Socialist minority government while the centre-left will not clearly commit to a legally binding referendum.
As long as there is no government in Madrid, the Spanish government cannot approve the disbursement of an additional €5bn budget for devolved administrations, which has a toll in the quality of local services. Spanish regions are expecting to receive 105bn Euro, money on which they depend for the provision of healthcare and education services. The fiscal crisis is also affecting the credit rating of regional governments, mounting the pressure for a political compromise.