Tag Archives: Catalonia

Spain horsemeat sham

The Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil), supported by Europol, has dismantled an organised crime group selling horsemeat which was deemed unsuitable for human consumption. The criminal organisation – active in the province of Barcelona – falsified documents to support their illegal activities. Law enforcement also carried out searches in various horse stables in Catalonia.

Officers from the Spanish Environment Protection Service (SEPRONA) detected that the horsemeat unfit for human consumption on the market came from 300 horses slaughtered in slaughterhouses. The documents of more than 10 000 horses were checked during the searches. The operation resulted in the arrests of 15 suspects and the investigation of 13 others. The investigation led to the seizure of 185 falsified horse passports and the detection of 100 other horses uncompliant with food market regulations.

The members of the criminal network, active since 2015, falsified the horse passports in slaughterhouses and farms in the province of Barcelona. The seized false documents confirmed that the organised crime group could have been responsible for introducing meat from hundreds of slaughtered animals onto the market, which failed to comply with national and European regulations. The slaughterhouse, several livestock farms, cattle dealers and veterinarians were all involved in the criminal activities.

Puigdemont attends Strasbourg Plenary

In spite of the arrest warrant issued in Madrid, on January 13 Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont attended Plenary session in Strasbourg in his right of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), due to immunity guaranteed by the status.
The former Catalan president has been elected to the European Parliament upon the political programme aiming at independence referendum for Catalonia, legally exiting the Kingdom of Spain.

Upon his arrival to the court of the Europarliament, Puigdemont called for an immediate release from a Spanish jail of Oriol Junqueras, the fellow Catalan MEP

“Mr.Junqueras should be here with us. He has the same rights,” Puigdemont said, backed by the group with posters “Free Junqueras.”

Puigdemont arrived together with the other Catalan MEP, Toni Comín.
Both politicians are wanted in Spain for their role for the 2017 independence referendum, considered ‘illegal” by Madrid. They have narrowly escaped the arrest and persecution in Spain, by fleeing to Belgium, where they continued their activities, struggling for the interests of their electorate.

In a statement made in four languages Catalan, Spanish, French and English, Puigdemont underlined the problem of Catalan protracted argument with Madrid is not a regional, but “European affaire“, because in spite of being the EU member state, Spain does not respect fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. He also mentioned the extraordinary resources behind the attempts of Spain to prevent him to enter his MEP office. Puigdemont added that he feels no fear in France, because his MEP immunity is respected there. He expressed hope that Spanish judiciary will also respect the decision of the European Court of Justice ruling on 19 December 2019, clearly stating that Junqueras had parliamentary immunity as he was an elected MEP and should have been released from prison.

Junqueras is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence after being convicted in Madrid of sedition and misuse of funds by Spain Supreme Court for his engagement in organising the October 2017 referendum, considered “illegal“. Furthermore he was accused for the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence passed in the Catalan parliament. At the time of the events in 2017, Junqueras was deputy regional president, while Puigdemont was president and Toni Comín a minister in the regional government.

Sassoli cancels Catalan MEP mandate

The European Parliament announced that jailed Catalan politician Oriol Junqueras is no longer Member, ending the protracted argument led by his supporters on his right for immunity, The move has deprived his electorate of hope he could be freed from prison cell due to his MEP status.

Junqueras was elected to the European parliament in May this year, but his term “ended with effect from January 3, 2020” after a decision by the Spanish electoral commission backed by a top court, EP speaker David Sassoli said.

The jailed pro-independence leader had just written to Sassoli (pictured) on December 10 to ask him to confirm his status as an MEP and thus to pressure Spain to keep him out of prison and allow him to take up his seat.

The decision came days after congrtulating Pedro Sanchez, the Spain Socialist Prime Minister, with the election victory.

Congratulations to President Sanchez Castejon for his re-election and transfer my best wishes to his new Government. Spain is a key partner in the EU, we will work together in this new stage and continue our close collaboration for a more just, green and social Europe Sassoli wrote on his Twitter micro blog to member of his European Socialist political family.

AMENDED:

Statement by the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli:

Following the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union in case C-502/19, Junqueras Vies, of 19 December 2019, the mandates of Mr Junqueras i Vies, Mr Puigdemont i Casamajó and Mr Comín i Oliveres started on 2 July 2019 on the basis of the official declaration of the results of the elections by the competent Spanish authorities.

“However, taking into account the decision of the Junta Electoral Central of 3 January 2020 and pursuant to the decision of the Tribunal Supremo of 9 January 2020, the mandate of Mr Junqueras i Vies terminated with effect on 3 January 2020.

“It follows from the case-law of the Court of Justice that the European Parliament is obliged to take note without delay of the final decisions of the competent judicial authorities of the Member States.

“Therefore, I will announce in plenary on Monday 13 January 2020 the start of mandate of the three Members on 2 July 2020 and the termination of the mandate of Mr Junqueras i Vies on 3 January 2020. I will ask the competent Spanish authorities to quickly notify to Parliament the name of the new Member.”

Catalan MEPs join Europarl

“Catalan independence leaders Carles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin received temporary accreditation budges or Members of the European Parliament on December 20, a day after the European Union’s high court issued a ruling in their favour.

Till present they were unable to collect their credentials because of the risks of being arrested upon Spain arrest warrant, both politicians, who live in self-imposed exile in Belgium, should get full accreditation in January at the earliest, the president of the European Parliament said.

The ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) also clarified that imprisoned separatist leader Oriol Junqueras was entitled to immunity as an MEP after being elected in May.

Mr Puigdemont and Mr Comin also won European Parliament seats in May but the arrest warrants, issued by Spanish prosecution prevented them from taking their oaths and collecting their MEP credentials.

We are at the place where we should have been six months ago,” Mr Puigdemont told reporters inside the European Parliament, where he and Comin collected their badges.

The former Catalan government president said he is looking forward to taking part in the next parliamentary session in Strasbourg. He also criticised the Spanish judiciary, which he underlined was not independent and could not guarantee the defence of their rights.

Puigdemont faces an arrest warrant from Spain for his role in the 2017 failed independence drive in Catalonia. The warrant is being analysed by Belgium.

EP President calls for Catalan MEP release

Catalan independence leader Oriol Junqueras(pictured)has been protected by the immunity as an Member of the European Parliament when he was jailed by the Spanish Supreme Court , and according the EU Court ruling should be fully restored in his rights, and subsequently given an opportunity to exercice his function.

“I call upon the competent Spanish authorities to align with the ruling. I have given a mandate to the services to evaluate its possible impact on the composition” the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli said.

Following the advice issued last month by Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar, the European Court of Justice said that Junqueras became an MEP from the moment the European election results were announced at the end of May and that he thus “enjoys the immunity guaranteed by Article 9 of the Protocol.

The ECJ also underlined that Junqueras also protected by “the immunity as regards travel” which applies “while they are travelling to the place of meeting of the European Parliament, including to that first sitting”.

Spanish courts prevented Junqueras to take an oath on the country’s constitution, which they say is necessary to become an MEP.

Junqueras, who had been in pre-trial detention since 2017 was elected to the EU Parliament in May 2019 for the Greens/European Free Alliance group.

Borrell’s undiplomatic offensive

European Commission has been confronted with questions of journalists over a Twitter micro blog embarrassing message, mounting up to “malfeasance in office” by its next EU top diplomat and incumbent Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who posted a sensitive document from UK authorities on his feed.

The document, not meant for public release, related to a Spanish request for the arrest and extradition from Britain of a Catalan politician, Clara Ponsati, who is engaged as an academic at a Scottish university.

It contained a British query, made through an EU police cooperation database for the Schengen free movement area called SIRENE, asking for more information to support the Spanish warrant and revealed some of Ponsati’s personal data.

Borrell posted it to his Twitter account on Wednesday and later deleted it — but not before its was screengrabbed and triggered a complaint from a Catalan MEP, Diana Riber, who demanded Borrell be barred from taking up his job as the next EU High Representative for foreign affairs.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission told reporters Friday that “there are very clear rules in place regarding access to and use of the Schengen Information System… and we would expect that everyone shall respect the letter and spirit of these rules, notably any confidentiality requirements.”

The spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, said it was a Spanish matter and should not affect Borrell’s future post in the Commission.

“This tweet was posted by Mr Borrell in his capacity as acting foreign minister. It is now for the national competent authorities to look into this matter,” she said, passing the buck to Madrid.

Claiming to be Catalan, Borrell, 72, is endorsed to become the EU’s top foreign policy official in the Ursula von der Leyen Commission.

That new team was scheduled to start working this month but has been delayed by at least a month because some of nominated commissioners failed to receive their consent. 

Spain’s European arrest warrant against Ponsati is part of Madrid’s crackdown on Catalan independence movement.

Puigdemont admitted to EU elections

A Madrid court ruled on  that former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who lives in a self-imposed exile in Belgium since 2017 to escape arrest for his prominent role in organising  the independence referendum, could run in the European Parliament election on May 26.

Spain’s electoral commission last month barred Puigdemont and two other fugitive Catalan politicians from standing, but they contested  the decision in court. Puigdemont and Toni Comin live in Belgium while Clara Ponsati lives in Scotland.

All three face imminent arrest in case they return to Spain as the referendum was ruled  not only illegal by the Constitutional Court. Nine Catalan leadersincluding Puigdemont’s former vice-president, Oriol Junqueras  are going through trial in Madrid on charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Catalans call for flexible political maneuver

Four Catalan leaders on trial in Madrid over a 2017 referendum their said the independence parties should be more flexible about entering negotiations on forming the next Spanish government after a April 28 national election.

The Catalan leaders’ published an open letter in weekend’s edition of La Vanguardia newspaper, suggesting the independence parties should enter talks with potential coalition partners as long as they refused to rule out an independence referendum as a “possible solution” for the region.

Vox castigates Catalonia independence aspirations

Anna van Densky from Brussels. Spain’s VOX  far-right party members came to European Parliament to condemn the aspirations of Catalans for independence. Although the congregation was impressive in numbers of attendees, there were no new elements introduced during presentations, while speakers defended the same point reflected in the name of the event – “Catalonia, a Spanish region”. Needless to add the happening was outdated in form, consisting of a series of monologues, developing the same point of view: Catalans can not aspire independence, because such a development is not foreseen in the Constitution of Kingdom of Spain. Subsequently the presentation was bias, completely ignoring counter-arguments, and omitting contemporary international law, namely right of self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter.

Javier Ortega Smith, the Secretary-General of  VOX insisted the fragmentation of nation states threatens the European Union (EU) future, attempting to construct a confrontational concept between Catalan independence as threat for the EU.

Jesus Lainzthe author of “Spain against Catalonia, a fraud history’ acted as a major ideologist, explaining at length the history binding Barcelona and Madrid, focusing mainly on the Middle Ages, and carefully avoiding modern times, in particular the second part of the XX century, when the number of sovereign states in the world has tripped, amounting to 193  members of the United Nations. 

However in spite of evident deficiencies the conference as such is a milestone for the Catalonia issue. Enrique Calvet Chambon MEP (ALDE, Spain)  admitted that there is a “parallel reality” existing in Catalonia already, and that the status quo is damaging to image of Spain, creating “animosity” across Europe. Both factors meaning that there is an understanding, although limited, that the tactic of suppression of the Catalan independence movement provoked further deterioration of the situation to detriment of Madrid.

The event was animated by a flash-mob by the employees of the European Parliament, protesting against VOX position towards feminists, and LGBT community.

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VOX party (2013) has been a staunch opponent of the federalism, promoting centralized state. Along with condemnation of the Catalan independence movement, the party is also against Basque autonomy.

The even was hosted by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Kosma ZŁOTOWSKI (Poland, ECR).

The event caused indignation of the European Greens, regretting the admission of VOX to speak in the European Parliament: MEP Ana Miranda, characterized it as “disgrace” to the Chamber. She added the Green group attempted to prevent the VOX to take a floor, because it is “xenophobic, racist, homophobic political party that is spreading hatred”.

 

 

 

 

Europarl: Puigdemont attends Catalan expo

Today the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont as a guest of honor attended a photo exhibition The Catalan Language: 10 million European Voices”taking place in central location of the European Parliament –  Atrium of Altiero Spinelli building. 

The event was inaugurated by Ramon Tremosa (MEP, ALDE).

“The Catalan language, 10 million European voices” was organised in co-operation between Plataforma per la Llengua (Platform for the Language) and MEP Ramon Tremosa (PDeCAT).

Although crowded, the event was not overwhelmed by visitors, as it usually happens when Carles Puigdemont is present, because the information passed that the vernissage was ‘suspended‘. The relevant announcement appeared on the Catalan site ‘El Nacional‘:

Another veto from the European Parliament towards another Catalan event. This time, the chamber has suspended an exhibition on the Catalan language planned for 4th March, saying it is “no longer appropriate” given the snap Spanish general election at the end of April. The exhibition was scheduled for two days before an event with far-right party Vox which is currently still happening”

Apparently the ban was lifted, and the exhibition on Catalan language will be available to the visitors of the European Parliament this week. However for many it is regrettable to fail to attend the event with Carles Puigdemont, who is held in high esteem by general public in Belgium, and by Brussels international press corps, always eager to interview the Catalan high-profile politician in exile.

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