Thursday

2nd Jul 2020

Anti-separatist Spanish MEPs dominate liberty committee

  • Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont lives in self-imposed exile in Belgium (Photo: parlament.cat)

The new Spanish leadership overseeing the European Parliament's powerful committee dealing with rule of law and rights, known as Libe, are staunch opponents of Catalan secession.

The committee's newly-elected chair, Spanish socialist Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, said the Catalan debacle had nothing to do with fundamental rights and should not be discussed at the European Parliament.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"The rule of law in Spain, which is a constitutional democracy, means that nobody is allowed to break the rule of law and get away with it. Nobody," he told this website on Wednesday night (10 July), moments after he took the Libe chair.

Lopez Aguilar's view stands in sharp contrast to the Catalan foreign ministry, which says the issue must be dealt with at the European level.

But Lopez Aguilar disagrees.

"It is a matter of rule of law and so I only hope that it won't be a problem in this European Parliament," he said.

He also said the decision was not up to him when asked if several freshly-elected MEPs from Catalonia, currently barred from entering the European Parliament, should be able to take their seats in the plenary.

"It will be an independent judicial body to decide," he said.

Lopez Aguilar's tough views on Catalonia are not alone.

The first-vice chair of the committee is Spanish liberal MEP from Renew Europe, Maite Pagazaurtundua.

Pagazaurtundua has in the past spoken out against Catalonia and accused Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont of spreading lies and propaganda.

Three Catalan MEPs in limbo

It means the anti-separatist stand of the Spanish dominated Libe committee leadership could pose a major headache for Puigdemont and his supporters should the issue ever make it to the European Parliament.

The Libe committee is among the most active and powerful in the assembly, drawing reports and shaping positions of the entire European Parliament on politically charged issues ranging from asylum and immigration to civil liberties in member states.

Lopez Aguilar is mandated to lead it up until January 2022.

Meanwhile, Puigdemont, the former president of the Government of Catalonia and former councillor Toni Comin, are both living in self-imposed exile Belgium out of fear of being jailed in Spain for having declared a unilateral independence of Catalonia.

A third MEP, Oriol Junqueras, the former vice president of the Generalitat, is in detention awaiting trial over his role in organising the referendum for independence in October 2017.

All are required to swear an allegiance to the Spanish constitution as part of an national electoral procedure to get the official accreditation to enter the European Parliament.

Earlier this month, the EU court had also complicated their efforts after dismissing a request for them to take a seat in the assembly.

The issue has sparked demonstrations.

Some 4,000 people waving Catalan flags showed up outside the inaugural opening of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Puigdemont reclaims Catalonia's leadership

Back in Belgium after Spain lifted a European Arrest Warrant against him, the separatist former leader wants to be the real power behind the region's government and a new push for independence.

Opinion

European Parliament cannot shut door to Catalan MEPs

Carles Puigdemont, Oriol Junqueras and Toni Comin, former members of the Catalan government who are currently in exile or in pre-trial detention, have been elected by 1,720,500 citizens of Spain and Catalonia to represent them in the European Parliament.

Opinion

Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin currently live outside Spain. They were prosecuted for the serious crimes, and they have fled justice. It is not possible to judge in absentia in Spain, where the justice system protects the rights of defendants.

Magazine

Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Magazine

Which parties and countries chair the EP committees?

Although the European Parliament tries to keep a geopolitical balance within the committees, the breakdown of the actual chairs of the committees by political party and nationality is uneven - with a clear under-representation of central and eastern EU countries.

News in Brief

  1. EU still not pro-actively declaring tobacco meetings
  2. China to block Hong Kong exiles fleeing to UK
  3. EU stuck with Putin until 2036
  4. Malaysia pushes to keep selling palm oil to EU
  5. Austria raises corona alert on Western Balkans
  6. Turkey poised to convert Istanbul museum into mosque
  7. France leaves Nato operation after clash with Turkish ships
  8. EU Commission sets up skills agenda for next five years

MEP in police protection after Czech PM calls him 'traitor'

Three MEPs received numerous death threats in the Czech Republic for asking questions about how EU funds are being spent. One of them had his entire family under police protection after people threatened to murder his four children.

Black MEP: 'I have been a victim of police violence'

MEPs urged an end to structural racism and discrimination in Europe and the US, following the brutal killing of black American George Floyd by US police. Socialists and Green MEPs stressed the need to unblock the anti-discrimination directive.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us