The Legal Affairs Committee (Juri) of the European Parliament opts to lift the immunity of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and his former councilors Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín. The closed-door vote that concluded after 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday shows, in short, a predictable result. 15 votes in favor, eight against and two abstentions. The position of the conservative, socialist and liberal MEPs who are part of the aforementioned commission already guaranteed the necessary majority. But, in addition, the report that supported the entire procedure, unveiled last week, already recommended removing the three Catalan politicians from parliamentary coverage. Your argument, in thick line? That the petition for a petition from the Supreme Court (filed in January of last year) refers to events from 2017, therefore prior to their election as MEPs and without any relation to the performance of those positions.
Predictability was also reinforced by statistics. The number of appeals rejected in the European Parliament tends to border on the symbolic. The last legislature, without going any further, 55 were processed and only five were denied because they questioned fundamental rules of the institution. Either the immunity was claimed for the opinions or votes cast by the MEP in question or there were cases of ‘fumus persecutionis’ – attempts to harm their political activity and consequently, the independence of the community legislature.
The point is that the legal report of this case did not appreciate any of these assumptions, nor did it appreciate it in other cases. three files non-Spanish who were also voted in the same session. So with the signature of the rapporteur of that commission, the ultra-conservative Bulgarian Angel Dzhambazki, was already pushing the door towards the end of the immunity for Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí that the Juri now leaves ajar. Because it must be borne in mind that the decision is not yet final. There is still a final process, a vote in full that would take place the week of March 8.
And if, as expected, it is ratified – a simple majority in the hemicycle will suffice – the three fugitives from Spanish justice would not automatically lose their status as MEPs. They don’t lose that status. When immunity is lifted – it is insisted, after ratification in full – the European Parliament notifies the Member State that these MEPs can be or investigated or brought to trial», Explained the president of the commission, Adrián Vázquez (Citizens). Ultimately, they would be more vulnerable to the predictable scenario that the Belgian justice (and the Scottish, in the case of Clara Ponsatí) take up the European arrest and surrender orders (Euroorders) that have been on hold for more than a year.
The work of this commission started in November (eight months after the request for the request) and has logically been highly conditioned by the pandemic. MEPs have heard in private hearings to the three Catalan politicians following a strict confidentiality procedure (15 minutes to present their arguments personally, separately and accompanied by their legal advisers) that was broken when the recommendation of the rapporteur was leaked. Reason why Vázquez has asked the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, to open an investigation.