It seemed a forgotten matter and on which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) had already sentenced. But doubts about whether Carles Puigdemont and three other pro-independence MEPs elected in 2019 legally have the seat they won at the polls have come back to the fore this Thursday. The Central Electoral Board (JEC) has informed the European Parliament that Puigdemont does not have the “full status” of MEP as he has not complied with the Constitution, for which he has urged the European legislature to leave his seat “vacant”.
Asens defends maintaining “fluid contact” with Puigdemont and does not deny that the PSOE had conversations with him
In a resolution approved unanimously, the JEC responds to the presidency of the European Parliament that, to collect the minutes, Puigdemont and the other three pro-independence MEPs must appear in Madrid and abide by the Constitution, as indicated in the Organic Law of the General Electoral Regime (LOREG).
The interpretation of the Law of the JEC is different from that of the CJEU. In December 2019, the European court already ruled, thanks to the case of Oriol Junqueras, that the status of MEP depended on the votes and was acquired from the moment of the official proclamation of the electoral results carried out by the Member States. The CJEU did not mention intermediate requirements such as the oath of the Constitution.
That judicial decision on the European electoral system opened the doors of the European Parliament to Puigdemont despite the fact that the JEC already resisted then to include the former president in the list of MEPs that he sent to Brussels. The reason was the same as now: Puigdemont’s refusal to go to the Congress of Deputies to swear or promise the Constitution.
The electoral body emphasizes that until now the Supreme Court, despite the ruling of the CJEU, has endorsed the requirement to abide by the Constitution, so it must continue to ensure its application “as long as no national or European Union court calls into question its validity”. Consequently, the JEC requests that Puigdemont’s seat remain “temporarily vacant until compliance” with the Constitution occurs. In that period, in the opinion of the JEC, his rights as an MEP should also be suspended.
The JEC argues that the credentials of these four elected MEPs “could not be issued” due to their “explicit desire not to comply” with the requirements of Spanish law to acquire the full status of parliamentarians. Instead, the electoral body offers Puigdemont and Junts MEPs Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín and ERC MEPs Jordi Solé to come to Madrid “to fulfill the same requirement that the other 55 elected deputies from the Kingdom of Spain have formalized.”
The trip of Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí to Madrid would mean their immediate arrest and provisional detention given that since 2017 the Spanish Justice has been demanding their extradition to different European countries for the cause of the procés that is being followed in the Supreme Court. Today, the delivery of the independence supporters to Spain is awaiting two key decisions of the European Justice on immunity and preliminary rulings ordered by Judge Pablo Llarena, as well as the subsequent resolution of the Belgian Justice.
The JEC also disfigures the European Parliament for recognizing “in fact” Puigdemont and the other three pro-independence leaders as MEPs without consulting him and against his criteria, despite not having the power to resolve controversies under national law, as recognized in a ruling by the General Court of the European Union (TGUE). However, the TGUE considered that Puigdemont acquired the status of European deputy on June 13, 2019, when the JEC declared him an elected deputy.
Sources from Puigdemont’s environment have assessed the JEC’s decision as “contempt for what was resolved by the TGUE and a provocation” both to the European Parliament and to the Court, in addition to a “disavowal” of what the representatives of Spain have been defending before European instances.
The ball, in the European Parliament
The decision of the JEC this Thursday responds to a request from the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who asked the Board to confirm whether Puigdemont, Comín, Ponsatí and Solé (ERC), are on the list of the 59 positions that were proclaimed elected in the European elections of 2019. It is now the conservative leader who is in charge of channeling the response of the JEC.
The situation is unprecedented and complex. Puigdemont, Comín, Ponsatí and Solé have been declared elected MEPs, but in the same agreement published on June 13 in the Official State Gazette They were summoned for an oath or promise of the Constitution in Congress that they did not carry out, so the JEC did not send their names to Brussels along with the rest of the Spanish MEPs.
Faced with this contradiction, the Legal Affairs Committee of the EU Parliament required Metsola to formally request the JEC to send a notification and documentation for the verification of credentials or, if that was not possible, “the explanation of its absence and the consequences derived from it.
The response from the JEC has arrived this Thursday and now Metsola will have to decide whether to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, the late David Sassoli, and keep the pro-independence MEPs based on the CJEU ruling in the Junqueras case, or on the contrary declare who do not have the right to vote until they swear to the Constitution. A third option would be to leave the minutes vacant and hand over the seats to the next members of the Junts and ERC lists.