The European Commission is studying the legal situation following the refusal by Spain’s Supreme Court to free Catalonia’s Oriol Junqueras even though the European Court of Justice recognised him as a European legislator with parliamentary immunity since May last.
The Commission is aware of the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court and is studying the legal situation, the Deputy Spokesperson of the European Commission, Dana Spinant, and another spokesperson of the European executive, Stefan de Keersmaecker, said on Friday.
What is certain is that all member States have to respect the rules and decisions of the CJEU, De Keersmaecker added, without giving any details on the eventual reaction from Brussels. However, he said there was no doubt that CJEU decisions were binding for national jurisdictions.
Spinant said the Commission refused to make any further comment on the issue for now, although she admitted that the situation created a “new and complex” legal concern that the European Parliament and national jurisdictions needed to examine.
Oriol Junqueras, former vice president to Carles Puigdemont in Catalonia, was elected at last May’s European elections while in preventive custody in Spain. He was convicted five months later for his involvement in the organisation of the 2017 referendum on Catalonia’s independence and was not authorised to take up his seat in Strasbourg.
The CJEU ruled in December that Junqueras could be considered a European parliamentarian benefitting from the immunity linked to that office from the time the results of the May election were proclaimed.
Despite the CJEU decision, Spain’s highest court on Thursday informed the European Parliament that the Catalan politician could not be a legislator because he was sentenced in October to 13 years in prison and ineligibility for public office. The Court refused to free the legislator, whereas other European parliamentarians had expected to see him take up his seat when the plenary opens on Monday next.