May 23. 2024. 8:40

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Puigdemont wants explanation MEP ban, says it violates ‘EU voters’ rights’


The European Parliament’s ban on former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont from taking his seat after the previous EU elections in 2019 “violated the fundamental rights of European voters”, Puigdemont said after the EU’s Advocate-General said on Thursday that the access should have been granted.

The EU Court’s Advocate General Maciej Szpunar issued an opinion on Thursday, stating that the European Parliament ban on Puigdemont and MEP Toni Comín, a former left-wing separatist ERC party member, should be lifted.

“Someone will have to explain for having violated fundamental rights of European voters”, Puigdemont said on the same day the opinion was issued, noting that advocate-general opinions are not binding and that he will have to wait on the EU court’s final judgement in his complex case.

“It is necessary to confront intelligently and defend fundamental rights without losing heart, no matter how powerful the adversary”, he wrote on X.

The ban was issued days after the 2019 EU elections by the then President of the European Parliament, Italy’s current Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (Forza Italia/EPP).

Tajani questioned the officially announced election results and confirmed the citizens’ approval of the two then-candidates by Spain’s Central Electoral Board (CEC).

He said the CEC did not include their names in the final list sent to the European Parliament on 17 June 2019 because neither had sworn to uphold the Spanish constitution, risking arrest if they returned to Spain.

Puigdemont, who has been in self-exile in Waterloo, near Brussels, since the 2017 secessionist attempt in Catalonia has been living in southern France since last week, from where he is preparing his party’s election campaign for the snap Catalan elections on 12 May. Comín, the pro-independence party’s leading candidate for the 12 May regional elections in Catalonia, currently lives in Brussels.

Both will benefit from the amnesty law that the Spanish parliament is expected to approve before the summer to pardon hundreds of people responsible for unlawful separatist actions in Catalonia between 2012 and 2023 – a law that should, in principle, allow both to return to Spain as free men.

“Toni Comín and I are especially happy for two people”, Puigdemont said on X, referring to his lawyer Gonzalo Boye and the late David Sassoli, the former president of the European Parliament, who gave them temporary access to their seats in the EU parliament after the EU court ruled that both had obtained their status as MEPs.

According to EU law experts, the Court of the European Union almost always issues judgments in line with the previous line or guidance presented by the Advocate General.

Puigdemont has given up running in the upcoming European elections as he aspires to become the next president of the Catalan government after the 12 May elections.

(Dani Rovirosa | EFE, Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.Euractiv.es)

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