The imprisoned leader of Catalan pro-independence party ERC, Oriol Junqueras, has been elected president of the European Free Alliance group (EFA) in the European Parliament. He'll also become first vice-president of the Greens/EFA, currently the fourth-largest group in the Parliament.
🔴Oriol @junqueras elected President of EFA Group in the European Parliament. EFA MEPs in @GreensEFA elect @ERC_INTL leader to succeed @AlynSmith.— European Free Alliance (@EFAparty) January 7, 2020
"We are looking forward to welcoming him to Strasbourg next week to take up his seat", said @F_Alfonsi.https://t.co/GDB9ywu8Ec
Junqueras's group colleague Corsican MEP François Alfonsi noted that, according to the Court of Justice of the EU, Junqueras "has been an MEP since June 2019 and enjoys immunity as such". He continued: "It is a disgrace that he has been prevented from taking up his democratic mandate for so long, effectively disenfranchising those Catalan citizens who voted for him. The behaviour of certain elements of the Spanish state throughout this process has been shameful. The Spanish authorities must now respect the decision of the European Court of Justice and allow Oriol Junqueras to take up his seat without delay."
Assuming that happens, Alfonsi said: "We are looking forward to welcoming Oriol Junqueras to Strasbourg next week to take up his seat as an MEP and assume the Presidency of the EFA Group."
Junqueras is taking over from Alyn Smith (SNP) who was elected to the UK Parliament for Stirling in the election on 12th December last year after 15 years in Brussels. The Catalan politician had been EFA's "Spitzenkandidat", or candidate for President of the European Commission, in last May's election.