European Parliament leaves exiled Junts MEP's seat vacant pending court ruling

CJEU to determine Toni Comín's status after Spanish Electoral Board excludes him from list of MEPs

Toni Comín of pro-independence Junts
Toni Comín of pro-independence Junts / Nazaret Romero
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

July 3, 2024 09:36 AM

July 3, 2024 09:48 AM

The European Parliament has, for now, left the seat won by pro-independence Junts in the June European election vacant, after candidate Toni Comín was left off Spain's Electoral Board (JEC) list of MEPs for not complying with the Spanish Constitution. 

The chamber will take a decision on Comín once the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rules on the requirement of Spanish MEPs to swear a constitutional oath in Madrid in order to become MEPs, a parliamentary source confirmed to the Catalan News Agency (ACN).  

The same source pointed out that it is the Spanish authorities who have the power to decide on the issue and said that the JEC list can be changed. 

The European Parliament therefore accepts the decision published by the JEC on Monday – which chose to exclude Comín from the list of Spanish MEPs for not having sworn to the constitution. 

The JEC decision thus ignored the precedent established by the CJEU in the case of Esquerra Republicana leader Oriol Junqueras in 2019, which established that the status of MEP is acquired "at the time of declaring the election results."

Sole Junts MEP 

While Junts won three seats in the 2019 election, with Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí, and Toni Comín as its main candidates, in 2024, the party only retained one seat.

Comín was therefore the only member of the party to be elected. 

Junqueras case

On December 19, 2019, the European Court of Justice confirmed Oriol Junqueras had immunity as an MEP-elect. The EU chamber then accepted his seat on January 6, 2020 with effect from July 2, 2019, but three days later, Spain's Supreme Court denied that he had immunity on the grounds that the ECJ decision applied to the time when he was in provisional detention awaiting sentencing. According to the judges, since he was sentenced to prison and disqualified from public office in October 2019, he no longer had the right to be MEP.

Carles Puigdemont (right) and Toni Comín (left) hold their MEP credentials after being recognized as members of the European Parliament on December 20, 2019
Carles Puigdemont (right) and Toni Comín (left) hold their MEP credentials after being recognized as members of the European Parliament on December 20, 2019 / Nazaret Romero

A day later, on January 10, 2020 the European Parliament stripped him of his MEP status with effect from January 3, when the Spanish electoral board first brought the issue up before the Supreme Court's final decision.

Junqueras then announced he would challenge the decision in the Court of Justice of the European Union, which dismissed his case in December 2020 and, after his final appeal, it was rejected again in December 2022.