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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected the appeal of Oriol Junqueras against the European Parliament's decision to declare his seat vacant, although the same court had earlier made it clear that the Catalan pro-independence leader had possessed immunity from prosecution as an MEP since the results of the European elections were announced. The ECJ argues that this termination of Junqueras's mandate following his conviction for sedition is in line with Spanish law and that Parliament can do no more than take note. The court ruled in favour of the European General Court (EGC), which had declared Junqueras's appeal against the European Parliament inadmissible, and pronounced in the same direction as the ECJ Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, who endorsed the decision of the president of the European Parliament to limit himself to reporting the end of Junqueras's mandate.

This decision concludes the judicial journey of the ERC leader before the Luxembourg court, although his defence still has another appeal before the Spanish Constitutional Court and intends to appeal on that, if necessary, to the European Court of Human Rights, although from the ECHR, it is impossible to redress the ECJ.

In December 2019, when Junqueras's immunity was confirmed in response to a preliminary question, the then-president of the European chamber, David Sassoli, declared his seat vacant because the Supreme Court had by that time sentenced him to 13 years in prison and a ban on holding public office for the same period of time, for sedition and misuse of funds. The leader of the Catalan Republic Left appealed against that decision before the EGC, which ruled in favour of the European Parliament, so the pro-independence politician then presented this cassation appeal before the Court of Justice.

Annulation of mandate

Through a press release, the court announced its decision to back the EGC with the argument that a criminal conviction "effectively constitutes a case of annulment of mandate". It also recalls that when the reason for such as annulment originates in the MEP's national law, the European Parliament only has to be informed by the authorities of that state of the expiry of the mandate in application of this right. "The electoral procedure is still governed by national law", notes the text which emphasizes that the loss of eligibility that ended Junqueras' mandate is part of this electoral procedure and that Parliament has no control over it.

In view of all of this, it states that the Parliament limited itself to informing of Spain's decision and that this communication did not produce legal effects that affect the interests of Junqueras or modify its legal situation. Therefore, it endorses the decision of the EGC and considers the complaint regarding the challenge of the legal foundations inadmissible given that it was directed against "a non-existent act".