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The European Parliament has decided to recognise imprisoned Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras as an MEP, over opposition in Spain. In a statement this Monday, the Parliament says that in the "plenary sitting of 13 January 2020, the European Parliament will take note of the election as Members of the European Parliament" of Junqueras, as well as Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comín.

The statement says the decision is based on a Court of Justice of the European Union ruling published just before Christmas which found that Junqueras had automatically become an MEP, despite not being allowed to go to the Congress in Madrid to swear to uphold the Spanish Constitution, a step the Spanish Central Electoral Commission argued was necessary. The statement backdates their status as MEPs to 2nd July last year, the day of the constitution of the Parliament's 9th legislature.

 

The news comes three days after the Commission decided to strip Junqueras of his seat as an MEP, basing its argument on his conviction in October in the trial of pro-independence leaders. The Commission, in an 8-5 decision, declared "the loss of the status of Member of the European Parliament of Mr Oriol Junqueras i Vies, with the cancellation of his mandate, all with effect from the date of this Agreement." It also summonsed Jordi Solé, next on ERC's list of candidates, to swear or promise to obey the Constitution as Junqueras' replacement.

The court's decision

On 19th December, the Court of Justice of the EU found that Junqueras became an MEP-elect and enjoyed the associated immunity from the moment of the declaration of the results and so shouldn't have been prevented from traveling to take his seat in person without asking the Parliament to waive that immunity.

European Commission

Shortly before the Parliament's announcement, the European Commission had declined to comment on the Electoral Commission's decision. The Commission's justice spokesperson, Christian Wigand, repeated the position they'd taken at the time of December's court ruling: "It now corresponds to the Supreme Court and the European Parliament to analyse the consequences of the verdict. We understand that for now that's underway, so we're not commenting on the details of this process."

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