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Italian MEPs have urged Roberta Metsola to defend the legacy of David Maria Sassoli, who died in January, from what they call Spain's "denigration". The issue is that, last week, the Spanish Central Electoral Commission (JEC) responded in writing to the president of the European Parliament and took the opportunity to criticise the decision of her predecessor in the European chamber, who took the initiative, based on a European justice ruling, to recognize four Catalan politicians as MEPs: Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín, Clara Ponsatí and Jordi Solé. Now, a group of Italian MEPs have written to Metsola denouncing that the JEC is "attempting to sully the memory" of Sassoli for having recognized the pro-independence Catalan politicians.

The European representatives say they are "deeply astonished by the words and tone with which an official body of the Spanish electoral administration denigrated the work of the former president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli", as their letter reads. The seven Italian MEPs adds that they are "all aware" of the fact that "former president Sassoli acted fully within the law by applying, immediately and to the letter, the ruling of the European Court of Justice of 19/12/2019 (C-502-19), respecting institutional roles and avoiding entering into the substance of the debate" - in reference to the European court case centred on the rights of another pro-independence Catalan politician, Oriol Junqueras.

"Outrage" of the Italian MEPs

They also expressed their "outrage" at the JEC's attempt to "sully the memory of David Sassoli". "Since you [Metsola] have pledged to defend and honour the memory of David Sassoli, we kindly ask you to continue to do so even against those, such as the Central Electoral Commission (JEC) of the Kingdom of Spain, who attempt to instrumentalize the deeds and the legacy of a great European like David Sassoli", they request. Finally, they affirmed that "firmly rejecting such acts is a duty not only for the memory of David Sassoli but also for the integrity and prestige of the European Parliament".

The Italian MEPs signing the letter are Massimiliano Smeriglio, Brando Benifei, Franco Roberti, Pietro Bartolo, Elisabetta Gualmini, Camilla Laureti and Alessandra Moretti, all from the Democratic Party (PD) of Italy — of which Sassoli was also a member. The party belongs to the European Socialists and Democrats group, which is chaired by the Spanish Socialist Iratxe García Pérez. In fact, in late 2019, García Pérez presented herself at the office of the former president of the European Parliament to reprimand him for recognizing Puigdemont.


Puigdemont's reaction

After the MEPs' letter became known, Carles Puigdemont also praised the legacy of Sassoli as "a great democrat and a great European". "He didn't need to share our political project to protect our rights with the utmost conviction, also in defence of the European Parliament. That's why it hurts me that Spanish institutions attack his memory," he wrote in a Twitter message.

Puigdemont reacciona a la carta d'eurodiputats italians contra la JEC / @KRLS

At the end of October, the European Parliament wrote to Spain's JEC for information on the credentials of Puigdemont, Comín, Ponsatí and Solé, having been prompted to do so by its Legal Affairs Committee​, given that certain papers were missing from Spain. The request was to confirm whether the four pro-independence polticians are on the list of 59 positions proclaimed elected in the European elections of 2019. Last week, the JEC responded and limited itself to saying that Puigdemont and his three colleagues must swear on the Spanish Constitution in Madrid to have the full rights of an MEP. The European chamber has stated that it has received the response and that its legal services will analyze it.