Thursday

24th Jun 2021

How 'Spanish protocol' could complicate Puigdemont asylum

  • Puigdemont is facing decades in prison (Photo: parlament.cat)

EU laws also known as the 'Spanish protocol' are likely to complicate reported efforts by ex-Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to seek asylum in Belgium.

Despite some exceptions, the Spanish protocol bars EU nationals from obtaining international protection in another member state.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

Madrid had introduced the text into the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 to stop Basque separatists from seeking asylum in Belgium.

The move appears prescient given Puigdemont's Belgian lawyer Paul Bekaert has in the past defended suspected members of the Basque ETA movement.

The protocol notes member states are "safe countries of origin".

It says claims have to be processed on the presumption that they are "manifestly unfounded."

A Puigdemont asylum application thus appears to be a dead end. But EU laws are also open for interpretation.

The Belgian exception

Belgium, according to Quaker Council of European Affairs, an NGO, as of 2005 remains "the only country within the European Union that accepts asylum applications from other EU member states".

In 2015, the European council for refugees and exiles (ECRE), a Brussels-based NGO, said Belgium had requested that a declaration be included in the Amsterdam Treaty that "it carry out an individual examination of any asylum request by a national of another member state".

It means Belgium may examine Puigdemont's application, although Belgian law gives authorities only five days to assess such a claim.

Belgium would apparently also have to "immediately inform" the Council, representing member states, of its decision.

Bekaert on Monday (30 October) had confirmed Puigdemont is in the country but refused to speculate on any asylum request.

"That is not decided yet," he told the VRT network.

The political fallout of any such decision would likely be large.

Belgium's liberal prime minister Charles Michel said a Puigdemont asylum request "is absolutely not on the agenda".

He also instructed his interior minister Theo Francken, a Flemish nationalist, "not to pour oil on the fire".

Francken had over the weekend said a Catalan asylum request in Belgium was "not unrealistic" given the "repression from Madrid".

Francken says he has had zero contact with Puigdemont.

The Catalan leader, who was charged on Monday, could face up to 30 years in jail for charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds.

Ex-Catalan leader in mystery Brussels trip

[Updated] Carles Puigdemont, who was dismissed on Friday and charged with sedition on Monday, is in Brussels, reportedly seeking asylum. There are no official details about the trip but a press conference is planned for Tuesday lunchtime.

Spain 'takes back control' of Catalan government

Three days after Madrid adopted measures to counter Catalonia's unrecognised declaration of independence, the question is whether the Catalan ministers will show up to work and who the civil servants will take orders from.

Spain and Catalonia reach point of no return

The Spanish government will suspend Catalonia's autonomy, after the region's parliament declared its independence. The EU does not recognise the would-be state and warns against the use of force.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

News in Brief

  1. EU: China 'stifled freedom' with Hong Kong newspaper closure
  2. EU sanctions almost 'declaration of economic war', says Belarus
  3. Lithuania pokes China with Taiwan Covid-vaccine donation
  4. Brussels airport traveller with false Covid test jailed for year
  5. Von der Leyen: Turkey needs more help for Syrian refugees
  6. German MEP adds to pressure to move Euro 2020 finals
  7. Report: Vatican urges Italy to block anti-homophobia law
  8. Dutch coalition talks postponed to August

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU Commission warns Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ measures
  2. Fourteen EU countries condemn Hungary over anti-LGBTIQ law
  3. EU preparing to lift Burundi sanctions, despite warning
  4. Europol: Extremists exploited pandemic to spread radicalism
  5. Greece dismisses EU states' objections on refugee travel
  6. What are the online risks to Germany's autumn election?
  7. What's missing from agenda for Berlin's Libya conference?
  8. Latest EU sanctions to bite Belarus dictator's income

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us