Catalans can nevertheless take their seats in the European Parliament

The Catalan separatist leader and former prime minister Carles Puigdemont and his former minister Toni Comín may nevertheless take their seat in the European Parliament.

They will probably be installed in the January plenary session as admitted MEPs. Yesterday they already had access passes to the EU buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Puigdemont and Comin have been in exile in Catalonia in Belgium since the independence referendum in Madrid, which was canceled in 2017. They were also elected as members of the European Parliament in May. But so far they were not allowed to enter this European Parliament at the insistence of Spain. Spain maintained that Puigdemont and Comin could not be MEPs because they had not traveled to Madrid to swear by the Spanish constitution.

This additional requirement from Spain has now been declared invalid by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, on which the European Parliament lifted the ban on Thursday against Puigdemont and Comin. The duo did not let the grass grow and went straight to the parliament building in Brussels on Friday. There they received a provisional access pass to be able to arrange some administrative matters.

The former deputy prime minister of the Catalan government Oriol Junqueras detained in Spain was also not allowed to take his seat in the Madrid EU parliament. The EU court ruled on Thursday that he enjoyed immunity because of his election and should have been released from pre-trial detention in June to travel to the parliament in Strasbourg. According to the court, elected MEPs have the right to attend the opening session "whether or not they have completed formalities required by national law".

Spain has asked Belgium to transfer Puigdemont and Comín. The court in Brussels has postponed a hearing on this, partly to await a judgment from European judges. The judgment of the European Court has already had immediate consequences for the two Catalan leaders abroad. The court must now deal with the case again.