CATALAN independence leader Carles Puigdemont was blocked entering the European Parliament despite being elected as an MEP last weekend.
Mr Puigdemont, who fled Spain in 2017 to escape charges related to the Catalonian independence referendum deemed illegal by Spanish courts, complained he was being prevented from entering the Brussels-based institution yesterday. The MEP-elect has been residing in Brussels, alongside Tony Comin, a former Catalan minister, since leaving their homes in Spain. The pair both blamed the EU Parliament’s secretary-general Klaus Welle, who they claimed had given the instructions to refuse their access.
Mr Puigdemont wrote on Twitter: “We thought that after Franco’s death, the objective was to bring European standards to the new Spanish democracy.
“Forty-three years later, the Spanish standards still prevail in European institutions. And they are still wondering the reasons behind the democratic recoil in Europe?”
He later added: “We won the elections in Catalonia but the ‘democratic’ secretary-general of the European Parliament considers that our voters are less respectable than the rest.
“Is this real European democracy? We will continue fighting for freedom and human rights.”
A Parliament official said MEPs only receive accreditation when they receive the “national lists”, which hadn’t arrived at the time from Spain.
The Parliament also hands out temporary accreditations to newly elect MEPs to help them hold crucial meetings before they first sit in July.
They decided not to hand the Catalonian MEPs temporary passes without receiving the “national lists” from Spain.
Parliament sources claim that the MEPs could have entered the premises with the invitation of another MEP but chose not to.
Earlier this month, the Spanish courts reversed a decision by the country’s Electoral Commission that blocked Mr Puigdemont standing as an MEP.
He ended up winning 28 percent of the vote in Catalonia in last week’s European elections.
There are still questions whether the Catalonian MEPs will be allowed to serve as members of the European Parliament, as they would have to be sworn in to the role in Spain. Mr Puigedemont still faces being arrested if he returns to the country.
The Parliament’s legal service has confirmed “their presence in Madrid is necessary in order for them to swear on the Spanish Constitution and be included on the list that Spanish authorities will communicate to the European Parliament”.