EU parliament launches procedure to consider lifting immunity to 2 Catalan MEPs

Legal affairs committee will analyze petition of Spain's Supreme Court to remove privilege to pro-independence Puigdemont and Comín

European Parliament president David Sassoli (by Natalia Segura)
European Parliament president David Sassoli (by Natalia Segura) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

January 16, 2020 09:38 AM

The EU parliament informed on Thursday morning that it has officially received a petition from Spain's Supreme Court to waive the immunity as MEPs of the Catalan pro-independence leaders Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín.

As customary, the chamber bureau forwarded the case to the parliament's legal affairs committee.

How lifting immunity procedure works

The next step for this months-long procedure is for the committee to ask for any information or explanation that it deems necessary in order to come to a decision. It is expected that Puigdemont and Comín are given an opportunity to have their say, and may present any documents or other written evidence to support their case.

The committee will then make a recommendation to the chamber to either approve or reject the request. At the next plenary session, the parliament votes on the committee's recommendation and either lifts or defends the MEPs' immunity.

In any case, the MEPs will keep their seats, but without freedom to travel around the EU. Their extradition procedures in Belgium, now suspended after they were recognized as MEPs between December and January, would resume and if Brussels judges decided to hand them in, Spain's Supreme Court would be able to try them.

Socialists to greenlight lifting MEPs' immunity

This week, Spain's Socialists suggested they would vote in favor of lifting Puigdemont and Comín's immunity, after receiving pressure by the right-wing unionist parties.

"We are in favor of letting justice work and also want to work for a political solution [on the Catalan issue]," said the MEP leader of the Social Democrats in the EU parliament, Iratxe García, who is also Spanish.

She said that her group will "study" the judges' request, but ruled out "hindering" justice.