The Brief: Puigdemont refused EU accreditation, decision extended to all Spanish MEPs

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By Shoshana Dubnow
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont European Parliament Brussels
Former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont European Parliament Brussels   -   Copyright  REUTERS/Yves Herman

The former Catalan president, Charles Puigdemont, has been denied his temporary accreditation as an elected member of the European Parliament at the request of three Spanish political parties.

Puigdemont is currently wanted by Spanish authorities after he declared Catalan independence. He is one of two independentist candidates who escaped to Belgium and then got elected as an MEP.

Among the groups protesting his accreditation are the Popular Party, Socialists and the Liberals of Ciudadanos.

Carlos Iturgaiz, an outgoing MEP (PPE), said Puigdemont should not hold office in the first place.

"When there is a criminal, a fugitive who is searched by the Spanish justice, without any doubt this man does not have the right to hold any public office in any institution of the European Union where Spain is a member of this institution," Iturgaiz said.

The measure to refuse temporary accreditation was approved by President Antonio Tajani. In order to justify the decision, he had to suspend the accreditation of all Spanish MEPs. This means they can only enter the European Parliament as guests.

The decision has raised controversy. Three vice-presidents of the European Parliament, including the liberal Pavel Telicka, have asked for explanations. They have also requested the issue to be discussed at the next meeting of the table.

The Catalan regional government said the European Parliament should stop building bureaucratic obstacles and demonstrate that it is a democratic body.

Alfred Bosch, Catalonia's minister for foreign affairs, said refusing all elected MEPs the proper accreditation is a disservice to those who voted them into office.

"Receiving accreditations is a formality, the substance of the issue is that 1.7 million voters have elected MEPs to the European Parliament," Bosch said. "So what we believe is that the voters should be paramount, the right of the voters to be represented and the right of those elected should be respected in the European Parliament."

Tajani justified the measure by saying that he is waiting for the Spanish authorities to communicate the final list of elected MEPs.