Thursday

18th Jan 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

MEPs target exports of cyber surveillance tech

MEPs have introduced a human rights clause into the export of cyber surveillance technology as part of EU-wide reforms to prevent abuse by autocratic regimes. The Strasbourg plenary will vote on the bill on Wednesday.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Next year's EU election at risk of Russian meddling
  2. Hungary to tax NGOs that 'help' migration
  3. Cyprus, Malta, and Russia gang up on whistleblower
  4. 'No backsliding' on Brexit promise, Irish PM warns
  5. Commission and council dig in on GMO opt-outs
  6. Ombudsman asks ECB chief to quit secret bankers group
  7. Polish Nazi-jibe MEP 'spams' EU inboxes
  8. Macron eyes France-UK border agreement