Separatist MEPs bring Catalan conflict to the heart of EU democracy

Puigdemont and Comin fled to Belgium in 2017 to avoid incarceration in Spain

Pro-independence Catalan leaders Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin sat for the first time as members of the European Parliament on Monday (13 December), calling on the EU to take a stance on the political conflict currently gripping Spain. 

“We are here to recall that the Catalan crisis is not an internal affair, it is a European one,” former president of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont told reporters upon his arrival for the Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg.

The separatist leader was referring to the European Commission’s long-standing policy of non-interference in national affairs. 

Puigdemont and Comin fled to Belgium in 2017 to avoid incarceration in Spain. The two men were charged with sedition and misuse of public funds for their involvement in a referendum over the independence of Catalonia deemed illegal by the Spanish authorities.

Both subsequently got elected in the European elections last May. But they never traveled to Spain to take their oath before the Constitution as that would have meant instant incarceration.

In December, the European Court of Justice ruled that members of the European Parliament have the right to immunity from the moment they are officially elected. Soon, Puigdemont and Comin were recognized as fully-entitled MEPs.

Read more: euractiv