The European Union's General Court (EGC) has "provisionally" reversed the suspension of the parliamentary immunity of the exiled Catalan MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. After the European Parliament's decision in March to approve the waiving of parliamentary immunity for the three pro-independence politicians, as had been requested by the Spanish Supreme Court, Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí appealed the decision to the Luxembourg court which has now granted the "provisional measures" that they requested.
The decision was announced by the vice president of the Court, who argued, among other factors, that the European Parliament is about to resume its sessions at its alternate chamber, in Strasbourg, which forces the three parliamentarians to enter French territory. "The vice president of the General Court orders that the execution of the decisions of the Parliament be suspended until the adoption of the resolution that ends the present interim measures", states the press note released today by the European judicial body.
The EGC acknowledges that the European Parliament has not yet presented its own observations in response to the request for interim measures requested by the pro-independence politicians. However, it stresses that the legal regulations allow the MEPs' request to be approved even before the other party has given its opinion.
Risk of arrest
On 26th May, the three MEPs called for interim measures to freeze the execution of the European Parliament's decision, that is, to stop their immunity from prosecution being lifted, arguing that there is a real risk that they will be arrested and imprisoned, which would prevent their work as representatives of EU citizens.
The MEPs argued that the European Parliament’s decision in March allows any member state, as well as the UK, to execute the European Arrest Warrants which Spain has issued against them; that any authority could detain them or restrict their freedom of movement and hand them over to the Spanish authorities; and that they could be then subject to provisional detention, after being handed over to the authorities.
"They believe that this could cause them serious and irreparable harm and that their detention or restriction of their freedom of movement would probably violate their right to carry out their duties as MEPs," notes the court's press release.
The EGC recalls that in January and February this year, the European chamber received requests to lift the immunity of the three MEPs, at the request of Spain's Supreme Court in connection with the charges against them for their roles in the Catalan independence referendum of 1st October, 2017; in March, the Parliament voted to suspend the immunity of the three members; and in May, they lodged an appeal for annulment of the decision on the grounds that Parliament had failed to guarantee their ability to exercise their fundamental rights as elected representatives.
The General Court considers in its note that, given this context, the deputies' appeal justifies maintaining the status quo until the court's vice president examines the arguments of the parties in more detail and gives a final ruling on the demand for interim measures”.
In the main image, Carles Puigdemont during a speech in the European Parliament