The Catalan National Assembly, over sixty representatives of European civil society, MEPs and former MEPs, appeal to Von der Leyen and Sassoli to denounce the waiver of parliamentary immunity for Catalan MEPs

65 representatives of civil society, as well as former and current MEPs across Europe have co-signed a letter spearheaded by the Catalan National Assembly to appeal to the European Institutions to denounce the Spanish judiciary’s lawfare against Catalan representatives.

The Catalan National Assembly has organized this morning a press conference in front of the representation of the EU institutions in Barcelona, after the approval of the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of the Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Clara Ponsatí and Toni Comín by the plenary of the European Parliament yesterday evening with the following results; Yes (57.72%), No (35.8%), and Abstentions (6.5%).

The event was attended by representatives from various civil society organizations in Catalonia -in addition to national and international- figures to denounce the attitude of the EU institutions towards the Catalan question and abuses by Spain, demanding an immediate change of attitude.

The President of Assemblea, Elisenda Paluzie, sent an appeal to the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to express their rejection against the result of the vote. In this vein, this morning, so far 65 representatives of civil society, Catalan and international personalities, led by Assemblea, sent the leaders of the European Parliament and the Commission a letter to express their rejection of the case.

Among the co-signatories are public figures such as Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organizations (UNPO) Secretary General Ralph Bunche; Davyth Hicks, Secretary General of the European Language Equality Network or Jan Diedrichsen, president of the international human rights NGO Society For Threatened Peoples; as well as former and current MEPs across Europe such as Clare Daly (Ireland), Jordi Solé, Oriol Junqueras i Diana Riba (Catalonia), François Alfonsi and José Bové (France), Mark Demesmaeker (Flandern), Pernando Barrena (Basque Country), Tamas Meszerics (Hungary) or Gérard Onesta, former vice president of the European Parliament. At a national level, Catalan cultural and human rights associations such as Òmnium Cultural, CIEMEN or the jurists association Col·lectiu Praga have also joined the initiative.

The missive denounces the Spanish authorities’ persecution of Catalan civic and political leaders, as well as over 3.300 activists and representatives, and calls for an end to the “permissiveness with Spain for the same or even worse violations of the rule of law than Hungary or Poland”, a “massive discrimination and violation of human rights, against article 2 of the European Union Treaty.”

The letter also recalled the democratic legitimacy of the three Catalan MEPs, who were elected by 1 million EU citizens, stating that “denying their rights as members of the European Parliament is only possible when the rights of the people that have voted for them have been subject to a prior violation.” 

Moreover, it recalled that the case has been considered baseless by courts in Germany, Scotland,  and Belgium, and denounced the rights violations  of the Catalan people. “This happens as the right to self-determination has been repeatedly violated by Spain. In doing so, Spanish authorities also violated the Catalans’ right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and political participation.”

In this sense, it is important to  recall that organising a referendum without the central government’s consent is not an offence under Spanish law, as the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated in June 2019.

The missive highlighted how the decision to waive the Catalan MEPs’ immunity “will be appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union”, where “in case of reversal of the European Parliament’s decision, this would mark a terrible loss of prestige for its reputation as a democratic chamber, with potentially harmful implications for all EU citizens’ right to political participation.

Bàrbara Roviró, Assemblea’s International Commission member and representative of the organization’s foreign branches, also took part in this afternoon’s event, where she distinguished the role of the strong presence of Assemblea’s Foreign Assemblies, with which “we have compelled many MEPs to publicly reject the petition”.

At the Catalan National Assembly, we vigorously reject the result of the plenary vote on the waiver of parliamentary immunity, and we urge the EU institutions to correct Spain’s non-democratic attitude regarding Catalonia, which does not go in accordance with the European founding principles. The credibility and legitimacy of the European Union as an integration project based on fundamental rights and principles is at stake.