EU Parliament decision to recognize pro-independence politicians as MEPs divides opinions

Pro-independence bloc and allies celebrate move while unionists stand their ground

European Parliament notice on Puigdemont, Comín and Junqueras' MEP status
European Parliament notice on Puigdemont, Comín and Junqueras' MEP status / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 6, 2020 08:24 PM

On Monday the European Parliament announced its decision to recognize pro-independence politicians Oriol Junqueras, Carles Puigdemont, and Toni Comín as MEPs given the European Court of Justice ruling on their immunity despite Spanish authorities' attempts to prevent them from taking up their seats, thereby unleashing a wave of reactions both in favor and against the move.

Not long after, both Puigdemont and Comín could be seen picking up their definitive MEP accreditations, and as was to be expected, many in the pro-independence bloc and their allies celebrating it as a victory while unionist parties vocally shared their disagreement.

Pro-independence bloc celebrates move

Catalan president Quim Torra promptly tweeted his reaction to the news that his colleagues would be recognized by the European chamber and called on Spain to release former Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras.

In reference to Spain's electoral board's decisions on Friday to both oust him from office as Catalan president and to veto Junqueras from becoming MEP despite the ECJ parliamentary immunity ruling, Torra said he was "proud that both the Catalan Parliament and the EU Parliament have disregarded Spain's electoral board."

And while Puigdemont's lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, first tweeted a prompt "mission accomplished" after Puigdemont and Comín picked up their MEP passes on Monday, Junqueras' lawyer, Andreu Van den Eynde called for his client's release: "Junqueras is an MEP. He has parliamentary immunity. He must be released to be able to go to the European Parliament."

Unionists criticize EU decision

The three main unionist parties, Ciutadans, People's Party and far-right Vox have all criticized the EU chamber's move to recognize the pro-independence politicians as MEPs.

The head of Cs' delegation to the European Parliament, Luís Garicano, called on the chamber's president, David Sassoli, to "revoke" and "reconsider" as well as to take into account the Spanish electoral board veto.

Seeming to suggest that Spain's Socialist acting president Pedro Sánchez had something to do with it to help enable his presidential bid, which will be voted on again on Tuesday, Garicano also announced that his party had already appealed the decision.

The head of the People's Party in Spain, Pablo Casado, criticized the Socialist government's "inaction" on the matter called on Sassoli to "revoke his decision on Junqueras, who has been sentenced and barred from office for sedition and misuse of funds."

He also added that his party would "always defend Spanish institutions and respect for the law."

Far-right Vox party also views the recognition of Puigdemont, Comín, and Junqueras as MEPs unfavorably, accusing the EU Parliament of "prevaricating and breaching all of its norms in its latest challenge to Spain."