The long and intense debate aroused in Luxembourg this Tuesday at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the position of the court with regard to the European Arrest Warrants requested by Spanish judge Pablo Llarena, which have been denied by the national courts of different states, has served to highlight once again the shortcomings of the Spanish judiciary. This is the great weapon of the defence teams of the different Catalan exiles, starting with president Carles Puigdemont and the other former ministers of his government living in Belgium - Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Lluís Puig (in fact, the preliminary questions asked by Llarena have to do with the refusal of the Belgian judiciary to extradite the ex-culture minister) - as well as the two political leaders living in Switzerland, Marta Rovira and Anna Gabriel. The nub of the issue and on which the ECJ has to rule is centred on the possible existence of judicial deficiencies faced by the Catalan pro-independence politicians and on the competence or not of the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Beyond the noise generated by any court process, there is this - and it is certainly transcendent for the interests of both sides in the litigation: that little or nothing seems to have been changed by the hearing. The position of the pro-independence politicians remains the strongest, and the ECJ doctrine is what it is, so the chances of the revival of the extradition as proposed by judge Llarena are minimal if not zero. It is quite another thing if people want to make noise about the position of the European Commission defending Spain before the Luxembourg court. Forgetting that, not by chance, the Commission is nothing but the government of the European Union and that as a political body it is aligned with its club member, Spain, which is not a pariah state but a representative to be defended.
The Luxembourg court's judges will not have been impressed by the already-anticipated position of the Commission, much less than the establishment press seems to have been, elevating a completely textbook response to headline news. Because, for years, the Commission has refused to receive representatives of the pro-independence government at the highest level in a show of loyalty to the Spanish state and its government, first to Mariano Rajoy and now to Pedro Sánchez. The position of the public prosecutors of the Spanish Supreme Court, which defended the desirability of the European warrants and the impartiality and neutrality of the Spanish judiciary, is also not news. Could anything else have been expected? And Vox, what did it do? Exactly what was expected of it. Perhaps the only thing that stood out in this scenario was the position of Belgium, which looked the other way more than expected given that what was being clarified was a position adopted by a court in that country. It may or may not have been due to political pressure, but, only at the end did Belgium return to a position more similar to what was expected.
Lying ahead now is a period of months until, on July 14th, the Advocate General of the ECJ issues his report which will not be binding but a clue as to the ruling expected for the second half of August or, more likely, the start of September. During this period, the trial on the immunity of Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí will take place. Most probably, in May. At the end of these two court rulings that the questions of extradition and immunity will be able to be considered resolved. Whether coincidence or not: in parallel with Catalonia's national day, the Diada, the fifth anniversary of the referendum, and the always-intense political month of October, which always has one eye on what the Catalan Parliament decided in 2017, there will be a green light for the return of president Puigdemont. The timing is set for autumn.