Updated: 07/08/2019 09: 23h
The General Court of the European Union (TGUE), the European Commission and the Constitutional Court (TC) revealed, last week, that Carles Puigdemont is beginning to see the end of the political and legal journey of his all-or-nothing bet, now only focused on surviving through the media in the space that controls the independence movement in Catalonia. The decisions of the two courts – the EU and the national courts – and the European government are only the latest (for the time being) displeasures for the ex-president of the autonomous Community who escaped from Justice.
“That the precautionary measures we requested have not been admitted is a setback, the question is to know how to measure it to avoid euphoria or depression, depending on where you look at it from”. This is how the lawyer of Puigdemont, Gonzalo Boye, tried to escape the horrible week, in an article published in the digital “El Nacional”, to encourage the independence troops. Knowing the situation and the general discouragement in the secessionist camp after a demonstration in Strasbourg (France) that did not meet expectations (that Puigdemont and Toni Comin would gain access to the European Parliament), Boye was content to sell as a success to his parish that Puigdemont remains free and avoided prison.
The black ball in which Puigdemont and the rest of the people involved in the procés are trusting lies in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). But until they reach this judicial instance – which does not rule on the merits of the matter but on the forms – the way will become very long (it is already becoming so) for them and they already accumulate a series of judicial defeats, also in the ECHR.
Neither Spain nor Europe
The TGUE – a first instance prior to the Court of Justice of the European Union – dismissed the request of Puigdemont and Comin to adopt precautionary measures so that both could take possession of their seat without going through Spain and thus access the full constitution of the European Parliament, last July 2 in Strasbourg.
Puigdemont will have to wait for the final decision of the TGUE – to which he went against the Central Electoral Board (JEC) and Antonio Tajani, outgoing president of the European Parliament, because they have not let him be an MEP – outside the European institution and, therefore, without the economic and human resources that the European Parliament offers for its members.
Continuing in Europe, and after getting up the day after leaving the thousands of Catalans who went to Strasbourg dumped, Puigdemont was stuck with another institution of the European Union. The Commission rejected a European Citizens’ Initiative in which the former president of the Generalitat, together with the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), urged to investigate and fine Spain for an alleged violation of fundamental rights. The Commission considers that it cannot accept the petition because it is “outside the powers of the Commission under the European treaties”. The case will end before the CJEU.
But the bad news for the leader of Junts per Catalunya (JpC) did not come only from Europe. The TC advanced on Tuesday the ruling on the application of the article 155 of the Constitution and on Friday this ruling was known in detail. Unanimously, the magistrates of the Constitutional Court recalled that the Constitution grants the Government, with the permission of the Senate, “a power of coercion over the autonomous communities allowing for the limitation of their autonomy in extraordinary circumstances”, including the dismissal of the regional governments and limiting the functions of regional chambers.
In this line, the TC indicated that Puigdemont “disregarded in the two answers given” the requirements of the then president of the Executive, Mariano Rajoy, after the double declaration of independence led by the president of the Generalitat in October 2017.
The TC makes it clear that the application of 155 by the Government of Mariano Rajoy was constitutional – ABC
A series of judicial setbacks
The events of this horrible week for the escaped of the Spanish Justice and resident in Waterloo (Belgium) do nothing but adding to the list of displeasures accumulated by Puigdemont and those who followed him – directly or indirectly – in the 2017 attempt, so that they can only use in their favor (without really meaning it) the resolution of a judicial instance of the Schweslig Holstein region (Germany) and several notes from a group of external advisors of the UN.
Thus, very soon, from early October, 2018, Puigdemont has been receiving international judicial setbacks, most of them directly related to the events of autumn 2017. The ECHR ruled after a lawsuit filed by Montserrat Aumatell, who was a member of the electoral board of Tarragona for the 1-O. Outcome: inadmissible claim without foundation.
More recently, on May 28, the ECHR, unanimously, rejected the request of the former president of the Generalitat, Carme Forcadell and 74 other regional MPs against the decision of the TC to annul the regional plenary on October 9, 2017 in which It was going to declare the independence of Catalonia, proclamation that finally took place on October 10.
The international route, however, is no more than an extension of the judicial setbacks at the national level that the leader of JpC keeps as trophies. For the history of the procés will remain the photograph in which Puigdemont, from his personal Twitter account, on April 11, 2017, boasts about the resolutions (five!) he had received from the TC. «Today I received the fifth notification of the TC. We will not stop going forward”, he wrote six months before the October referendum.
Court of Accounts
After the events of 2017, the fugitive from Justice continues to accumulate defeats in Spain. Both the TC and the Supreme Court dismissed Puigdemont’s petitions and appeals, either against the legal impossibility of repeating as president of the Generalitat at a distance, or against the decision of the JEC to become a member of the European Parliament without going through the Congress, as required by regulations. Last (at the moment), on Thursday, the Supreme Court refused to ask the CJEU about the supposed immunity of Puigdemont and Comín as elected MEPs. They are not present as part in the cause of the procés, because they escaped, reason why they cannot go to the court.
Meanwhile, in the Court of Accounts a case against the leaders of the procés is still open. Their accounting responsibilities are investigated, as well as if the members of the Catalan government during the 1-O should have to return several million euros to the public treasury.