The Brief: what are the next legal steps in the Catalan conundrum?

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By Ana Lazaro, Jack Parrock
The Brief: what are the next legal steps in the Catalan conundrum?

Catalan independence leaders Charles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin have taken their seats in the European Parliament. But Spain has asked the European Parliament to lift their immunity as they are still wanted for their roles during the referendum on independence.

The president of the Parliament will announces Spain’s request in the plenary session and from then on the procedures around immunity may start. However it is important to note that this process is only about suspending the immunity:

"It is not an assessment like criminal guilt and so on, it is rather a formal assessment to see whether there are good grants for the the waiver of immunity to be granted or not," explains Jan Wouters, a professor from the Catholic University of Leuven.

What happens next?

The legal affairs committee of the Parliament will study the case behind closed doors and make a recommendation. Then a vote will take place at the plenary without debate.

This is quite a normal procedure, explains Wouters.

"It happens quite regularly. In the past legislature for instance, there have been around 60 cases in which the waiver of immunity was requested to the EP based on request of national competent authorities. And this has been granted in the vast majority of cases." 

This was the case for Jean-Marie Le Pen for the misuse of European funds, and for his daughter Marine Le Pen for showing pictures of Islamic state crimes.