The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has given the green light this Tuesday to the legal report that recommends addressing the request of the Spanish Supreme Court to lift the immunity of Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí.
The 25 members of the Commission, chaired by Adrián Vázquez, from Ciudadanos, have endorsed the document signed by the Bulgarian deputy Angel Dzhambazki, in which the plenary chamber is urged to vote in favor as well.
The result was 15 votes in favor, 8 against and 2 abstentions.
The ball goes to the plenary session of the chamber that will be pronounced in the second week of March.
The decision of the Commission, in which there are five Spaniards (two from the PP, two from the PSOE and Vázquez himself) and has met in the Loyola de Palacio room, is a necessary step but not sufficient or binding to conclude the open process formally in January 2020, a few days after Puigdemont and Comín collected their minutes after a ruling from the EU Court of Justice.
It is normally a slow path, but the pandemic and the complications inherent in the case have lengthened each of the steps even more.
Now it remains for the plenary session, the 705 MEPs, to speak as soon as it becomes the order of the day, perhaps even in the next session in March.
What has been seen so far, despite the controversy and various complaints from the defense, is very common in Brussels and Strasbourg.
In the last legislature, the European Parliament examined 70 requests and only in five cases refused to lift immunity.
What the Juri Commission does is not a legal examination of the case.
Not analyzing whether Puigdemont, Comín and Ponsatí are guilty or innocent for the crimes for which they are claimed in Spain.
The norms say that the request can be rejected only if it is considered that they want to judge a deputy for their opinions or for their parliamentary actions in the exercise of their functions.
Or if there is a case of fumus persecutionis, that is, when it is estimated that the motivation of the process is "to harm the political activity of a deputy and, consequently, the independence of the institution."
On paper, a request by a Court of a Member State to lift immunity so that deputies can be tried for alleged crimes committed before they even reached the community institutions should be a mere formality.
But nothing is easy or obvious in the Catalan question, as has been seen since the end of 2017. That the majority groups have agreed in the Commission should be a good clue for the vote in the plenary session, but each vote is personal.
If so far everything has been more or less technical, the next move will be totally political.
Vázquez, who thanked the commission for its work and criticized "the enormous, unprecedented pressure" suffered by officials and members, I believe that the conclusion of the process shows the strength of the institution: "we have fulfilled what we said: that it wouldn't be a circus. "
The political forces, with Vox, Ciudadanos and PP at the head, are moving internally to close ranks.
Socialists, in principle, too, but their messages seek less impact these days, trying to generate the least possible friction.
In recent months the environment of Pugidemont and his former advisers has been very quiet, with a very low profile.
They did not want scandals, controversies or noise.
They preferred to work in the shadows with the argument they have developed these months: it is a political trial, in Spain there are no guarantees or separation of powers, immunity should not be lifted, Francoism has never been left behind in our country.
They move strings in the media, among colleagues and with lawyers, who accumulate these months elements to try to get votes among the 705 deputies who have part of their future in their hands.
They explain, for example, that there was an irregularity when appointing the rapporteur who made his report.
Or to be more precise: that each case should have had its own speaker and report, without mixing.
They argue that the hearing that took place in January did not meet the necessary privacy guarantees.
That step had always been done behind closed doors and in person in the EU, but the pandemic has changed the ways of working, and the legal services of the European Parliament gave the go-ahead for the format to be blended.
Something that will be used as ammunition.
Such as the fact that the content of the report voted today was leaked to the media within hours of being delivered, in secret, to the members of the Juri Commission.
They will also argue that the Belgian Justice has already ruled repeatedly, such as the German or the Swiss, against the Euroorders issued from Spain.
The last time, in January, when the Court in Brussels that is handling the case denied for the umpteenth time the surrender of Lluis Puig, another former counselor tried for embezzlement and who never became a MEP.
This time, considering that the Supreme Court was not the competent body to make the request for surrender and arrest.
The vote of the plenary, in any case, is not the last requirement either.
In the event of lifting the immunity, it would serve for the Belgian Justice to reopen the pending cases, which were put on hold until it was determined whether the immunity could be revoked.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project
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