Catalan MEPs take their seats in Strasbourg

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By Sandor Zsiros, Ana Lazaro, Meabh McMahon
Catalan MEPs take their seats in Strasbourg
Copyright  Euronews

It is the moment the Catalan independence movement has been waiting for. 

To see the former leaders of the separatist push, Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin walk into the European Parliament in Strasbourg. 

Now fully accredited MEPS, they are here to attend the first plenary of the year. 

After expressing his joy, Carles Puigdemont told the press the Catalan independence question was a European issue.

"We are here to remember and to claim and to ask EU institutions to be involved in a solution based on dialogue, doing politics and respecting the will of the people, and the will of the people of Catalonia is to decide in a free referendum our own future," Carles Puigdemont, MEP and former Catalan President told reporters in Strasbourg.

It is certainly the will of the people demonstrating outside the parliament building in Strasbourg. Hundreds of Catalans gathered outside the European Parliament on Monday to welcome the two men, who they voted for back in May 2019.

"Today is a victory for us. Finally, Europe can recognise that we are not violent and that the rule of law should apply to everyone."

But a dark cloud hung over demonstrators here today. One of the MEPs they elected, Oriol Junqueras is not present, but still imprisoned in Spain, blocked by the Spanish Supreme Court from taking up his seat.

The fact that they are here, this proves the legitimacy of all three to be here and it shows that Oriol Junqueras is being held against the democratic legitimacy… they are legitimately elected MEPs," Jordi Vilanova, Catalan National Assembly (pro-indy grassroots organisation)

The big question now will be how after the fanfare and the press attention, the two MEPs get on, how they are received by their colleagues, especially those staunchly against Catalan independence.

For the moment, the Spanish socialists say they will abide by the ECJ decision:

"We are at the home of democracy and I believe that all democrats in this house, the Spanish socialist delegation, our group and our president, we all abide by and respect judicial decisions. The justice has decided that these two men can be Spanish MEPs - I remind that they are Spanish - and we abide by it," remarked Javier Moreno, Spanish MEP, Socialists and Democrats Group.