Spain's electoral board says Puigdemont must go to Madrid to be confirmed as MEP

Exiled politician has been member of EU parliament since 2020 after European Court of Justice's go-ahead

Carles Puigdemont during a press conference at the European Parliament on June 3, 2021
Carles Puigdemont during a press conference at the European Parliament on June 3, 2021 / Nazaret Romero
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

November 3, 2022 03:19 PM

November 3, 2022 06:47 PM

Spain's electoral board has stated that former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont must go to Madrid in order to be confirmed as an MEP by taking the constitutional oath. 

The politician, who has been living in exile since October 2017 right after the failed independence push, was elected as an MEP in May 2019, but the electoral board blocked him from his taking his seat for roughly half a year. 

He was eventually given full MEP status in January 2020 when the European Court of Justice greenlighted any individual taking their seat if elected in the European vote – even if they have not fulfilled all steps required by member states' legislations such as taking the constitutional oath in person.

At the time, the European Court of Justice referred to Oriol Junqueras, MEP-elect for Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), who won a seat in the 2019 elections, and thus, he should have been released from preventive detention while his trial was ongoing as soon as he got his seat following the election.

Junqueras was in provisional jail for his role in the independence push during the elections, but when the EU's top judges ruled in favor of his case, he was already condemned to 13 years behind bars.

Puigdemont has enjoyed his status as a member of the European Parliament ever since – his parliamentary immunity was lifted in March 2021, which is being now reviewed in Luxembourg courts, not affecting his condition as MEP. 

Yet, this spring, the European Parliament committee in charge of verifying the credentials of MEPs notified that they had not been able to confirm those of Puigdemont and two other exiled Junts officials, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, along with those of Esquerra's Jordi Solé, who decided not go to Madrid to take the constitutional oath despite not being under threat of arrest.

The decision announced by the electoral board says Puigdemont and the three other pro-independence politicians should go to Madrid to comply with Spanish legislation "as the other 55 MEPs elected" in the country did. 

The announcement says that the "electoral board believes that Carles Puigdemont cannot be considered as an MEP in full capacity as he did not take the constitutional oath as Spanish legislation states. 

For the electoral board, "Puigdemont's seat has to be temporarily vacant until the constitutional oath has been done, and this should suspend his rights and prerogatives."

Adrián Vázquez, member of the Spanish unionist party Ciudadanos, is the leader of the Legal Affairs Committee, and he argued in May that the four pro-independence MEPs had not fulfilled the requirements ordered by the national legislation. 

After the 2019 elections, the electoral board recognized Puigdemont and the three others as elected MEPs, but they were not included in the lists sent to European authorities as they had not taken the constitutional oath.

The committee asked parliament speaker Roberta Metsola to ask Spain's electoral board for further information about the unusual situation, which she did on October 27.