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Spain’s Attack on the European Parliament’s Ethics sets a dangerous precedent

Last updated on October 1, 2019

Considering that there are no precedents of a member nation preventing elected MEPs out of taking their seats, the value of this Court’s decision can’t be underestimated.

There are precedents – in Spain – of criminally prosecuted candidates being chosen as MEPs. But none has been prevented from taking office, so far as I’m aware. In July, for example, Greece needed to lift travel restrictions on a neo-Nazi MEP now on trial for quite serious violent offenses. That isn’t to mention that their election let them escape prosecution. When chosen they obtained parliamentary immunity, but that does not impede criminal proceedings to last. Typically, it merely needs the European Parliament to reevaluate that the MEP’s immunity with a vast majority vote.

The vital question in Junqueras’ situation is if MEPs acquire parliamentary immunity when they’re announced as elected or whenever they efficiently take their seats in the very first session of the Parliament. That is by no way a nuance without practical significance. It impacts the raison d’ĂȘtre of resistance, since it determines if chosen candidates can be efficiently prevented from functioning as MEPs by way of their own detention or imprisonment.

Indeed, based on EU legislation, all MEPs enjoy complete immunity while they’re traveling to and from the place of assembly of the European Parliament for very obvious reasons. This is the facet of resistance which most certainly connects with its historic origin; it had been envisaged to shield members of parliaments from a politically motivated arrest that shifted the makeup of this room and the balance of electricity.

Spain asserts that Junqueras isn’t yet an MEP, even though he had been announced as such from the Spanish Electoral Commission. He can not, since he has denied leave from prison to achieve that. To put it differently, Spain has determined to not let Junqueras function as an MEP though nobody challenged his right to operate as a candidate.

Some assert that they and Junqueras – search to utilize their chairs in the EU Parliament to avoid facing justice for their previous activities.

The vote of the people appears to be important. But, such can not be a debate against parliamentary immunity, for instance, if the European Parliament refused to waive immunity in a specific situation (something that is fairly infrequent ), MEPs may nevertheless be prosecuted following the expiry of the term.

Following four distinct nations have neglected to grant the extradition of Catalan leaders living in exile, and following a human body in the UN has condemned the pre-trial detention of people that are imprisoned in Spain, it’s simple to comprehend why the Spanish governments are working to prevent them from gaining immunity. The issue is whether Europe can let Spanish governments eliminate this.

If parliamentary immunity doesn’t guarantee that a chosen MEP won’t ever be stopped from taking her or his chair by way of arrest or imprisonment (be it justified or not), then the essence of the privilege is sabotaged. The strong majority will probably not endure the most in this situation. And there are lots of European nations where the rule of law and individual rights can’t be taken for granted.

It affects each and each of the present, and future, MEPs. After the future of European politics is under threat, it’s not the ideal time to grant member countries the capacity to keep out dissenting minorities in the European Parliament.

If parliamentary immunity is refused to chosen Catalan MEPs, a few will probably be joyful. However, if the same rule is applied, later on, they might yet regret their present irresponsible stance.