EU Parliament decision to recognize pro-independence politicians as MEPs divides opinions
Pro-independence bloc and allies celebrate move while unionists stand their ground
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."
Orgullós que tant el Parlament de Catalunya com el Parlament Europeu hagin desautoritzat la JEC. Ens hem plantat. Tal i com jo soc President de Catalunya, el VP Junqueras hauria d’estar avui mateix en llibertat. Ho exigim al Govern espanyol i ho denunciarem al de la UE. https://t.co/Y2pwgV7D6O— Quim Torra i Pla (@QuimTorraiPla) January 6, 2020
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.
Desde la delegación de @CiudadanosCs en el Parlamento Europeo acabamos de apelar contra la decisión del presidente de la Eurocamara de permitir la acreditación como eurodiputados de Comín, Junqueras y Puigdemont https://t.co/VhiLWunMLC— Luis Garicano (@lugaricano) January 6, 2020
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."
Ante la inacción del Gobierno socialista, @populares exige al presidente del Parlamento Europeo que revoque su decisión sobre Junqueras, un condenado e inhabilitado por sedición y malversación.— Pablo Casado Blanco (@pablocasado_) January 6, 2020
Defenderemos siempre a las instituciones españolas y el respeto a la legalidad. pic.twitter.com/LEvxvi8Zqq
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."