Catalonia: The EU’s Secret Shame 184

My very real enthusiasm for the European Union had survived decades of sometimes bruising encounters with reality before being fatally holed by the strong political support given by European Council, Commission and Parliament to the brutal and violent suppression of Catalonia’s independence referendum. Subsequently, while I still view membership of the single market as beyond argument beneficial, I have been an enthusiast for membership of the customs union and EEA/EFTA, but agnostic on full EU membership and the political union.

This was reinforced on Monday with the shameful vote of the European Parliament to strip the legal immunity of those Catalan Members of the European Parliament in exile, to assist Spain in its efforts to extradite them to add to its list of Catalan political prisoners. There are today nine Catalan political leaders already enduring lengthy sentences in Spanish prisons for the “crime” of wishing their nation to be independent and attempting to hold a democratic vote on the idea. These are the EU’s highest profile political prisoners. Not even the much reviled Viktor Orban or Andrzej Duda treat democratic opponents in this way.

None of this has cowed the Catalans. The recent elections to the regional parliament resulted in the largest ever vote for pro-Independence parties, who had a clear majority of votes as well as seats. Part of the democratic expression of Catalan will has of course been the elections to the European Parliament, and nothing could send a clearer message than the decision of Catalan voters to elect three MEPs in exile whom the Spanish state wishes to jail for wanting a free Catalonie, which it calls “sedition”. Those are former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont MEP, former health minister Antoni Comin MEP and former education minister Clara Ponsati MEP, who now lives in Scotland.

The vote of the European Parliament to remove the legal immunity of these MEPs is the more shocking because this is precisely the kind of political circumstance in which the immunity is intended to protect MEPs.

I was interested to see which MEP’s had voted to lift the immunity, but on the European Parliament website I could find only a the result of the votes, with no indication how individual members voted. There were separate votes for each Catalan MEP and the results were all broadly similar to the vote on Carles Puigdemont MEP- 400 for, 248 against and 45 abstentions. I was genuinely shocked to discover that the reason that I could not see who voted which way, was that the vote was in fact secret.

When you are going to do something shameful, then it is best to do it in private. Parliaments do not generally take secret votes, for fundamental reasons of democracy – how can you know whether to vote for an MEP if you do not know how he votes in parliament? Nor is secret voting mandated in the official guide to this procedure for lifting an MEP’s immunity.

We do know that the move to lift immunity was initiated by the Spanish government and actively promoted by the Eastern European far right parties. I do not expect it to have practical effect, as judicial authorities in Belgium and Scotland have to date not accepted Spanish extradition requests on quite other grounds. But this shabby, grubby behaviour of EU parliamentarians in seeking, secretly and furtively, to enable further persecution of the Catalans, is another chapter in a truly shameful history for the EU.


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184 thoughts on “Catalonia: The EU’s Secret Shame

1 2
    • craig Post author

      Indeed. The European Parliament is so unpleasant it probably was not in fact made any worse by the departure of the Tory MEPs, which is a remarkable thing to say.

    • joel

      As does the U. S. Congress. The media forgot to mention in all the hoopla after January 6th that only occasionally do our core democratic values entail respecting election results and deploring attempted coups.

  • Mac

    “…actively promoted by the Eastern European far right parties.”

    That surprised me. Why?

    • wonky

      They want to prove to their Nato masters that they can jump higher that the other chihuahuas. Why else?

      • lysias

        Spain provides basing privileges to the U.S. military at the naval base at Rota and the air base at Moron de la Frontera.

        • Bayard

          Moron Air Base, bet that’s a popular posting, almost up there with HMS Pansy in WW I.

          • lysias

            I can’t type diacritical marks on this tablet. There is an acute accent over the second “o” in “Moron”.

    • Adam Hamilton

      Presumably to establish the principle so that they can extradite their own dissidents if required.

  • charming64

    Euroshitz – excellent timing. In 1921 Hitler was elected leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ a group that promoted German pride and anti-Semitism.

    • Steven Newbury

      Isn’t this just representative democracy? At least as far as the Parliament goes, all MEPs were elected to their seats. I find the idea these people are appealing to the European polity more disturbing than the institution itself, whatever its flaws.

      • DiggerUK

        Representative democracy?? The EU is the dictatorship of the unelected commission…_

        • Tom Welsh

          If, with me, you believe that there is little or no real democracy anywhere in the world – Switzerland does seem to have it in some form – the question is simply how much effort is put into disguising the reality.

          As citizens gradually become less intelligent, worse educated, and less aware of basic facts and figures, it does take a lot less trouble to pass off a corporate state as some kind of “democracy”.

          We are seeing the same symptoms almost everywhere: here in Britain, across the EU, in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and of course most of all in the USA. “Land of the fee and home of the slave”, as I saw one American call it the other day.

      • mary-lou

        once in the EP the MEPs become beholden to various powerful interests and no longer serve the best interest of the people they supposedly represent.

    • Josh R


      a chilling anniversary to coincide with today’s global sh!tshow.

      Europäische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft a la 1942, anybody?!?

      Can’t help but wonder if sales of expensive brandy & cigars have gone up recently, with much guffawing and back slapping going on in oak paneled club rooms, celebrating 100 years & a job well done.

      Worth noting that before “Fascism” & “Eugenics” became dirty words, at least for most decent minded folk, Hitler, Mussolini & their ideologies were shamelessly feted by the ruling minorities of their day – the oligarchy & the established lot.

      Just this evening, I watched a good doc which seemed eerily prescient.
      “1932 – A True History of the United States”, which looks intimately at the timeline from Lincoln to Roosevelt in terms of the battle between “The American System” and British Imperialism.

      In very brief summary, it illuminates the terrible manipulations by oligarchs & imperialists (the same people?) to perpetuate & manifest their self serving supremacist ideology at the expense of unimaginable global suffering.

      Seemed a bit too familiar.

      With very little to distinguish neo liberalism and “The Free Trade British System” (at least in terms of outcomes); together with all the dystopian & dictatorial diktats that currently abound; and the enormous financial & human misery being felt, most tangibly in the Majority World (as ever!) but also coming home to roost in the leafy suburbs,,,,, one could almost imagine we’re a bit fkd 🙁

      Not so much Ground Hog Day as Ground Hog Century.

      I know, so many differences between then & now as to make the above sound trite……but perhaps enough similarities to cause people to be sh!tting a few bricks too?

  • portside

    Opaque votes shouldn’t surprise anybody given the anti democratic tenor of its whole neoliberal project. However the trajectory in Brussels in recent times has been to dispense with even bothering to hide the nature of the organisation and sustain a window dressing pretence. The leading ornaments of the EU are corrupt to the core and were commonly known to be before they were handpicked for the top roles ..
    .. Christine Lagarde, current president of the ECB: suspected of complicity in fraud and misuse of public funds when minister of the economy of France.
    .. Ursula von der Leyen, current president of the European Commission, charged in 2015 with plagiarism on 43 percent of the pages of her doctorate at Hannover Medical School.
    Both escaped with impunity and were appointed to the highest offices in Frankfurt and Brussels, as did Von der Leyen’s corrupt predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. (Survived repeated exposure of his involvement in tax avoidance and money laundering).

    So yes, the surprise in 2021 is that they are still bothering to cloak shameful votes in secrecy. It is an organisation that revels in complete impunity from the top down.

    • ChrisB

      Failing to be fair to all, even those for who you have a dislike for, is not something any of us should tolerate. I have no interest in defending Ursula von der Leyen, but a great deal of interest in not spreading misinformation. The following is taken from

      “VroniPlag Wiki, a collaborative which considers itself a whistleblower of acts of plagiarism in academia in Germany, commented that von der Leyen’s dissertation contained several pages that would appear to be copied from other sources. In certain passages, the transgressions against academic standards and etiquette were alleged to affect 75 percent or more of the document. There were numerous quotes, both literal and adapted, in her work, which had not been clearly cited as such,” VroniPlag Wiki alleged.”.

      “However, Gerhard Dannemann, a law professor who has been working with VroniPlag Wiki for several years, explained that the nature of her alleged plagiarism was not “a severe case” but rather a symptom of the kind of “sloppy work” that was widespread among academic dissertations presented by medical students.”

      DW say they are “…an unbiased media organization, based in Germany. We provide our journalistic content to people worldwide, giving them the freedom to make up their own minds and the information required to form their own opinions.”

      • ChrisB

        Hmmm. Also worth a look here:

        “RP online quotes law professor Gerhard Dannemann, one of the VroniPlag Wiki activists, as stating that this decision is irritating because plagiarism is academic misconduct, as has been decided time and again in the German courts when persons who had their doctorates revoked for plagiarism took their universities to court.

        The Berlin daily newspaper Tagespiegel notes the close connections between von der Leyen and the MHH. Her husband is an adjunct professor at the MHH and director of the Hannover Clinical Trial Center GmbH that is affiliated with the medical school. She herself is a founder of the school’s alumni association.”

        • portside

          The university commission that absolved her was headed by an old friend from the alumni association. That decision was heavily criticised by the German media, but after the fall of two previous ministers in Merkel’s government, both on charges of plagiarism, exhaustion had set in and she was allowed to keep her doctorate.

          For the European parliament it simply confirmed she had the right fibre to succeed Jean-Claude.

        • laguerre

          Frankly fake PhDs by politicians are not uncommon. I don’t know why they bother. Politicians don’t need PhDs. A doctorate is a training for a university teacher or researcher. In part there is an excessive respect for a doctorate in Europe, and particularly in Germany, where in the past there was no clear demarcation points for university studies until you get to the doctorate. Now it’s not so much like that. Of course UvdL belongs to that older generation, that I knew when I was a research fellow in Germany.

      • Wikikettle

        I keep an eye on DW and France 24. Finding them both mirror and in lockstep with our own Ministry of Information the BBC.

    • jrkrideau

      plagiarism on 43 percent of the pages of her doctorate

      Seems perfectly normal for a German MD. Some antiquated reg calls for a thesis from a medical student. Med students are not researchers.

  • Stevie Boy

    EU democracy, perfect example of why the brexiters succeeded, albeit with Tory sabotage.
    Be careful of what you wish for Scotland.
    Franco lives …

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Full membership of the EU is a moot point while Sturgeon’s gestapo (Polis Scotland’s self described “Salmond team”) roam the streets hunting down her political critics. Behaviour that would make Viktor Orbán blush.

  • Goodwin

    “I have been an enthusiast for membership of the customs union and EEA/EFTA, but agnostic on full EU membership and the political union”

    Many Brexiteers would agree with you. Unfortunately Germany and France had other ideas.

    • Bayard

      As did the Tories. Germany and France didn’t have to stop us joining EEA/EFTA because the Tories rued it out practically from Day 1.

  • Coldish

    Hmm. Up till now I’ve not been particularly sympathetic to the Catalan independence movement, but Craig’s comparison of the Madrid authorities’ cruel punishment treatment of Catalan dissident leaders with the much milder transgressions carried out by the much reviled Polish and Hungarian leaderships will make me think again.
    And how can an elected parliament that holds a secret ballot on such an important decision claim to be democratic? Thank you, Craig for drawing attention to this scandal.

  • William

    Maybe you might begin to admit that those who voted for brexit were correct to be tired of the non-democratic EU’s shenanigans, and reconsider the appalling smear tweet you wrote in February last year: “ It is irresistibly hilarious that the large majority of those who voted Brexit and Tory, primarily motivated by racism…”

    As a stickler for accuracy it would be interesting to know how you came up with such an assertion. that Brexit voters were motivated by racism? Anyway, I am glad you are at least questioning the opaque rubber-stamping body known as the European ‘Parliament’.

    • Bayard

      You need to look at what Craig said more carefully, he said “the large majority of those who voted Brexit and Tory”, not “the large majority of those who voted Brexit”. A significant minority, without whom the vote would have gone the other way, voted for Brexit simply because the Tory government was for it. They didn’t go on to vote Tory. Tory voters who voted leave were voting against their government and the secret weapon of the Tory Party is loyalty, so it quite possible that a majority of those who overcame this loyalty were motivated by racism, or at least xenophobia.

      • Squeeth

        Facile speculation; the English electorate is a little more sophisticated than that. Liarbour has been in a crisis of legitimacy since the 70s, now the crisis has enveloped the state. I’m still laughing.

    • UWS

      That is not a smear, that is a fact. Pity calling a duck a duck bothers you.

      And I still find brexshiteers whining about ‘undemocratic’ EU while never complaining about oh-so-democratic ‘let me change law in back room’ queen, super-democratic lords and bishops, and ultra-democratic FPTP gerrymandered parliament with huge majorities for 30% of the vote tories really hilarious. Every single EU institution is elected either directly or indirectly in proportional vote. Stop copy-pasting tabloid propaganda.

  • Robyn

    Not central to the topic, I know, but can someone please give a phonetic spelling of Puigdemont?

    • Andrew

      In respect to the correct answer… I would suggest “Puugghh-deh-mohnnt”.

      The “gghh” should end on the second “g”. The final “t” needs to have a reminisence of a “d”. That is to say a pronounciation that is half way between a “t” and a “d”.

  • james mcintosh

    There is only one solution to the Catalan question Craig.

    It lies within the articles of the carefully written (by franquistas for franquistas) 1978 Constitution that passed with an overwhelming 90+% approval rating in a referendum and a political class willing to debate fundamental changes in it. That clamour has to come from the Spanish people and it ain’t happening.

    The rest of Spain have come to detest Catalunya (even more since 1996 when Aznar had to make huge concessions in the treaty of the Majestic to allow him to become the first rightwing leader elected to las Cortes) and el Pais Vasco for refusing to comply with the Greater Spanish model which has been the only way the Spanish establishment has remained relevant since the USA took Cuba, Puerto Rico & The Phillipines off them in 1898. 2 bloody dictatorships, 2 Republics and 43 years of pseudo democracy should be testament enough to explain the constitutional limbo end of empire has cast Spain into to this day.

    When franquista laws are revoked and the constitution opened to change then the fundamental debate of a federal Republic can begin.

    • Blissex

      «the only way the Spanish establishment has remained relevant since the USA took Cuba, Puerto Rico & The Phillipines off them in 1898.»

      The USA did the same (in a different way) to England in 1943 and the english establishment is also still trying to remain relevant in the UK and elsewhere. It is not encouraging that the spanish establishment is still going at it after 120 years. I guess that the english one will still trying to cope with the loss of their empire in 2060. Oh well.

      So far of the countries that lost their empire those who have coped well have been Portugal, Austria and Hungary, Indonesia, Germany, Russia.

      Turkey, England, Spain, France are still trying to cope (France still has a small empire though).

    • Andrew

      James you really are on the correct lines.

      The problem with Spain is that there has only been a single change to the Spanish constitution since Franco. As such it is not an open constitution, it is a fixed constitution. On the other hand, as an autonomous state within the constitution of Spain, Calalunya has more autonomy than most other states in Europe. Puigdemont only got so far as he did because of the morbidity of Rajoy.

      So, the first reason Puigdemont and the others are wanted back in Spain is because of the misuse of public funds. That is what enabled everything else.

      It’s very much like the current situation of the SNP in Scotland: “Look.. it’s only half a million on that, a hundred million or so to Rangers, and don’t forget the half a billion down the drain. But don’t worry, we are still in power, and don’t forget we’ll have independence next year!”

      As regards to the recent elections to the Generalitat, only 51,29% of the population turned out to vote The PSOE won the election on votes cast. The The Catalan nationalist vote amounted to more or less 50.7%. I really don’t understand why those numbers account for a democratic mandate for unilateral “magic” independence!

      I understand this: Alex Salmond is a politician of historic importance. What took him 30 years to achieve, legally, cannot be done, illegally, within 30 months.

      For the last ten years, the economic viability of austerity, has been hidden in Catalunya by a call for independence, a call that is led by a bunch of Thatcherite populist right wing, neo-liberal Opus Dei leaning politicians who where stupid enough to believe in their own propaganda.

      Catalunya is the richest state in Spain… and I tell you this: nothing happens here at all!

      • Viscaelpaviscaelvi

        Your comment is a fantastic summary of Unionist rubbish. It has the virtue of being cogently stated, which is not a minor thing in Spain. Thanks for that.

        • “Calalunya has more autonomy than most other states in Europe. “:
          – Blatantly false.
        • “Puigdemont only got so far as he did because of the morbidity of Rajoy.”:
          – Diversion game. It comes in two shapes, both very aptly illustrated by your comment. The mainstream version is that it is a matter of personalities. the Spanish-hopeless-left’s version is that it is a problem with the untamed Spanish right that will be put to rest when the real left is given a real go in the country. Anything to avoid acknowledging the real problem.
        • “So, the first reason Puigdemont and the others are wanted back in Spain is because of the misuse of public funds. “:
          – Blatantly false.
        • “As regards to the recent elections to the Generalitat, only 51,29% of the population turned out to vote “:
          – Usual blabber about pretending that Spain cares about a democratic vote. Or do you accept that the issue should be solved by a vote?
        • “For the last ten years, the economic viability of austerity, has been hidden in Catalunya by a call for independence, a call that is led by a bunch of Thatcherite populist right wing, neo-liberal Opus Dei leaning politicians who where stupid enough to believe in their own propaganda.”:
          – The pro-independence movement is CLEARLY to the left of the political spectrum and, if anything, it has led Catalonia further left. Opus Dei folklorists are only present in the Unionist side by the way.
        • “Catalunya is the richest state in Spain… and I tell you this: nothing happens here at all!”:
          – Usual suggestion that this is a financial selfishness issue with a political excuse, rather than a real political issue with a financial dimension attached. Never acknowledge the real issue here: that Spain is a half-baked nation that has been kept together through history by the use of state violence and that the Spanish democracy is only very consciously continuing that policy.
  • N_

    The recent elections to the regional parliament resulted in the largest ever vote for pro-Independence parties, who had a clear majority of votes as well as seats.

    …for the first time ever…

    …and with the lowest turnout ever: 51%, down from 79% in 2017 – showing that faith in the devolved structure appears to have declined considerably in Catalonia. No prizes for guessing why.

    A larger proportion of the population in Catalonia retain faith in the Spain-wide structure. This is evidenced by the fact that turnout in Catalonia in the most recent Spanish general election, held in November 2019, was 69%.

    So in short we have 7 out of 10 Catalans voting in the Spanish general election, and only 5 out of 10 voting in the Catalan general election. In that sense, a comparison with Scotland is apt. In Scotland, the stats show that Westminster has always been more popular than Holyrood in the “look at what the people of Scotland actually do in elections” sense.

    But yes the separatists in Catalonia did win a majority of votes and seats for the first time, and therefore I agree that a genuinely legal and legitimate referendum on independence rather than a kangaroo one should be held. The same applies if parties in Scotland standing on a platform calling for a rerun of the indyref win a majority of votes and seats for the first time ever in May.

    We can take it as read that turnout in a legitimate Catalan indyref would be much higher than 51%.

    Meanwhile the Catalan separatists are not “the Catalans”.

    • Jimmeh

      “So in short we have 7 out of 10 Catalans voting in the Spanish general election, and only 5 out of 10 voting in the Catalan general election.”

      Not everyone living in Catalonia is a Catalan. On the contrary, workers from all parts of Spain come to live and work in the most-industrialised part of Spain. Those non-Catalan Spaniards living in Catalonia get to vote in Catalan elections. They are opposed to independence, naturally enough. It would be interesting to know what proportion of native Catalans support/oppose independence.

    • Piotr+Berman

      These are separate issue. One issue if the secession of Catalonia is wise or fair. The second issue is exporting the enforcement of penalties for political crimes. The first is the internal debate of Spain and Catalonia. The second is a profound and universal question of human rights.

      The current evolution is that “rebels” have only one right

      to prostrate themselves and beg for forbearance or forgiveness.

      That is applied to inhabitants of Venezuela, Syria, Crimea, Cuba, Yemen etc. Every year EU has votes for extending sanctions, and while the extensions require unanimity, we have a season of intimidation and bribery. My guess is that this year Spanish government insisting on “equal treatment” of Catalonia and Crimea, and the European Parliament vote was part of the bribe.

      • Squeeth

        The current evolution is that “rebels” have only one right….to prostrate themselves and beg for forbearance or forgiveness.

        Jeremy Corbyn, the radical traitor to his principles and supporters.

  • Minkdeville

    1. Demande de levée de l’immunité de Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó
    Request for waiver of the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó
    Antrag auf Aufhebung der Immunität von Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó

    Liste des membres ayant pris part au scrutin

    ECR: Aguilar, Berlato, Bielan, Bourgeois, Brudziński, Buxadé Villalba, Czarnecki, de la Pisa Carrión, Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Dzhambazki, Eppink, Fidanza, Fiocchi, Fitto, Fotyga, Fragkos, Jaki, Jurgiel, Jurzyca, Kanko, Karski, Kempa, Kloc, Kopcińska, Krasnodębski, Kruk, Kuźmiuk, Legutko, Lundgren, Mazurek, Melbārde, Możdżanowska, Poręba, Procaccini, Rafalska, Rooken, Roos, Ruissen, Rzońca, Saryusz-Wolski, Slabakov, Sofo, Stancanelli, Stegrud, Szydło, Tarczyński, Terheş, Tertsch, Tobiszowski, Tomaševski, Tomašić, Tošenovský, Van Overtveldt, Vondra, Vrecionová, Waszczykowski, Weimers, Wiśniewska, Zahradil, Zalewska, Zīle, Złotowski

    ID: Adinolfi Matteo, Anderson, Androuët, Annemans, Baldassarre, Bardella, Bay, Beck, Beigneux, Berg, Bilde, Bizzotto, Blaško, Bonfrisco, Borchia, Bruna, Buchheit, Campomenosi, Casanova, Ceccardi, Ciocca, Collard, Conte, Da Re, David, De Man, Donato, Dreosto, Fest, Gancia, Garraud, de Graaff, Grant, Griset, Haider, Hakkarainen, Huhtasaari, Jalkh, Jamet, Joron, Juvin, Kofod, Krah, Kuhs, Lacapelle, Lancini, Laporte, Lebreton, Lechanteux, Limmer, Lizzi, Madison, Mariani, Mayer, Mélin, Meuthen, Olivier, Panza, Pirbakas, Regimenti, Reil, Rinaldi, Rivière, Rougé, Sardone, Tardino, Tovaglieri, Vandendriessche, Vilimsky, Vuolo, Zambelli, Zanni, Zimniok

    NI: Adinolfi Isabella, Beghin, Buschmann, Caroppo, Castaldo, Comín i Oliveres, Deutsch, Ferrara, Furore, Gemma, Giarrusso, Gyöngyösi, Győri, Gyürk, Hidvéghi, Járóka, Kolakušić, Konstantinou, Kósa, Lagos, Nikolaou-Alavanos, Papadakis Kostas, Pignedoli, Ponsatí Obiols, Puigdemont i Casamajó, Radačovský, Rondinelli, Rookmaker, Schaller-Baross, Sinčić, Sonneborn, Tóth, Uhrík, Uspaskich, Zullo

    PPE: Adamowicz, Ademov, Alexandrov Yordanov, Amaro, Arias Echeverría, Arimont, Arłukowicz, Asimakopoulou, Băsescu, Bellamy, Benjumea Benjumea, Bentele, Berendsen, Berger, Berlusconi, Bernhuber, Bilčík, Blaga, Bogdan, Bogovič, Buda, Buşoi, Buzek, Carvalho, Casa, Caspary, del Castillo Vera, Christoforou, Clune, Colin-Oesterlé, van Dalen, Danjean, De Meo, Didier, Doleschal, Dorfmann, Duda, Düpont, Ehler, Estaràs Ferragut, Evren, Falcă, Ferber, Fernandes, Fitzgerald, Fourlas, Frankowski, Franssen, Gahler, García-Margallo y Marfil, Glavak, González Pons, Halicki, Hansen, Hava, Herbst, Hetman, Hohlmeier, Hölvényi, Hortefeux, Hübner, Jahr, Jarubas, Juknevičienė, Kalinowski, Kalniete, Kanev, Karas, Kefalogiannis, Kelly, Kokalari, Kopacz, Kovatchev, Kubilius, Kympouropoulos, Kyrtsos, de Lange, Lega, Lenaers, Lewandowski, Lexmann, Liese, Lins, López Gil, López-Istúriz White, Łukacijewska, Lutgen, McAllister, Maldeikienė, Manders, Mandl, Marinescu, Markey, Martusciello, Mato, Maydell, Mažylis, Meimarakis, Melo, Metsola, Milazzo, Millán Mon, Monteiro de Aguiar, Montserrat, Morano, Mortler, Motreanu, Mureşan, Niebler, Niedermayer, Nistor, Novak, Novakov, Ochojska, Olbrycht, Patriciello, Pereira Lídia, Pieper, Pietikäinen, Polčák, Polfjärd, Pollák, Pospíšil, Radev, Radtke, Rangel, Ressler, Sagartz, Salini, Sander, Sarvamaa, Schmiedtbauer, Schneider, Schreijer-Pierik, Schulze, Schwab, Seekatz, Sikorski, Simon, Šojdrová, Sokol, Spyraki, Štefanec, Tajani, Terras, Thaler, Thun und Hohenstein, Tobé, Tomac, Tomc, Vaidere, Vandenkendelaere, Verheyen, Vincze, Virkkunen, Voss, Vozemberg-Vrionidi, Walsh, Walsmann, Warborn, Weber, Weiss, Wieland, Wiezik, Winkler, Winzig, Wiseler-Lima, Zagorakis, Zarzalejos, Zdechovský, Zoido Álvarez, Zovko, Zver

    Renew: Alieva-Veli, Al-Sahlani, Andrews, Ansip, Auštrevičius, Azmani, Bauzá Díaz, Beer, Bijoux, Bilbao Barandica, Botoş, Boyer, Brunet, Cañas, Canfin, Chabaud, Charanzová, Chastel, Christensen, Cicurel, Cioloş, Cseh, Danti, Decerle, Dlabajová, Donáth, Durand, Eroglu, Farreng, Flego, Gade, Gamon, Garicano, Gheorghe, Glück, Goerens, Gozi, Groothuis, Grošelj, Grudler, Guetta, Hahn Svenja, Hayer, Hlaváček, Hojsík, Huitema, Ijabs, in ‘t Veld, Joveva, Karleskind, Karlsbro, Katainen, Kelleher, Keller Fabienne, Knotek, Körner, Kovařík, Kyuchyuk, Loiseau, Løkkegaard, Maxová, Melchior, Mihaylova, Mituța, Müller, Nagtegaal, Nart, Oetjen, Paet, Pagazaurtundúa, Pekkarinen, Petersen, Pîslaru, Rafaela, Ries, Riquet, Rodríguez Ramos, Schreinemacher, Séjourné, Semedo, Šimečka, Solís Pérez, Ştefănuță, Strugariu, Søgaard-Lidell, Tolleret, Toom, Torvalds, Trillet-Lenoir, Tudorache, Vautmans, Vedrenne, Verhofstadt, Vázquez Lázara, Wiesner, Yon-Courtin, Zacharopoulou

    S&D: Agius Saliba, Aguilera, Ameriks, Andrieu, Androulakis, Angel, Ara-Kovács, Arena, Avram, Balt, Barley, Bartolo, Belka, Benea, Benifei, Beňová, Bergkvist, Biedroń, Bischoff, Bonafè, Borzan, Brglez, Bullmann, Burkhardt, Calenda, Carvalhais, Cerdas, Chahim, Chinnici, Cimoszewicz, Ciuhodaru, Číž, Cozzolino, Crețu, Cutajar, Danielsson, De Castro, Dobrev, Durá Ferrandis, Engerer, Ertug, Fajon, Fernández, Ferrandino, Fritzon, Fuglsang, Gálvez Muñoz, García Del Blanco, García Muñoz, García Pérez, Gardiazabal Rubial, Gebhardt, Geier, Glucksmann, González, González Casares, Grapini, Gualmini, Guillaume, Guteland, Hajšel, Heide, Heinäluoma, Homs Ginel, Hristov, Incir, Jerković, Jongerius, Kaili, Kaljurand, Kammerevert, Kohut, Köster, Krehl, Kumpula-Natri, Lalucq, Lange, Larrouturou, Leitão-Marques, Liberadzki, López, López Aguilar, Luena, Maestre Martín De Almagro, Majorino, Maldonado López, Manda, Marques Margarida, Marques Pedro, Matić, Mavrides, Mebarek, Mikser, Miller, Molnár, Moreno Sánchez, Moretti, Negrescu, Neuser, Nica, Noichl, Olekas, Papadakis Demetris, Penkova, Picierno, Picula, Piri, Pisapia, Pizarro, Plumb, Regner, Roberti, Rodríguez-Piñero, Rónai, Ros Sempere, Ruiz Devesa, Sánchez Amor, Sant, Santos, Schaldemose, Schieder, Schuster, Sidl, Silva Pereira, Sippel, Smeriglio, Stanishev, Tang, Tarabella, Tax, Tinagli, Toia, Tudose, Ujhelyi, Ušakovs, Van Brempt, Vind, Vitanov, Vollath, Wölken, Wolters, Yoncheva, Zorrinho

    The Left: Arvanitis, Aubry, Barrena Arza, Björk, Bompard, Botenga, Chaibi, Daly, Demirel, Ernst, Ferreira, Flanagan, Georgiou, Georgoulis, Gusmão, Hazekamp, Kizilyürek, Kokkalis, Konečná, Kouloglou, Kountoura, MacManus, Matias, Maurel, Michels, Modig, Omarjee, Papadimoulis, Pelletier, Pereira Sandra, Pineda, Rego, Rodríguez Palop, Schirdewan, Scholz, Urbán Crespo, Villanueva Ruiz, Villumsen, Wallace

    Verts/ALE: Alametsä, Alfonsi, Andresen, Auken, Biteau, Bloss, Boeselager, Breyer, Bricmont, Bütikofer, Carême, Cavazzini, Corrao, Cuffe, Dalunde, D’Amato, Delbos-Corfield, Delli, Deparnay-Grunenberg, Eickhout, Evi, Franz, Freund, Geese, Giegold, Gruffat, Guerreiro, Hahn Henrike, Häusling, Hautala, Herzberger-Fofana, Holmgren, Jadot, Jakeliūnas, Keller Ska, Kolaja, Kuhnke, Lagodinsky, Lamberts, Langensiepen, Marquardt, Matthieu, Metz, Neumann, Nienaß, Niinistö, O’Sullivan, Paulus, Pedicini, Peksa, Peter-Hansen, Reintke, Riba i Giner, Ripa, Rivasi, Roose, Ropė, Satouri, Semsrott, Solé, Spurek, Strik, Toussaint, Urtasun, Vana, Van Sparrentak, Von Cramon-Taubadel, Waitz, Wiener, Yenbou, Ždanoka

      • Minkdeville

        I should have read your article instead of trying to be a smart arse.

        Request for waiver of the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó

        Committee:         Committee on Legal Affairs

        Subject of the amendment         Am No     Author     RCV etc.     Vote     Remarks
        Proposal for a decision
        Secret vote         SEC

  • nevermind

    As a once enthusiastic supporter of the original ideas behind the EU’founding principles, beiieving that a reform at the top with elected Commissioners would change the democratic deficit, I have now come to the conclusion that fascism in the EU is on the rise, you have to use this term as it is a stark underlying trend..

    Some days ago I got a message drom my niece who works for David MacAllister, a Scottish born MEP for Niedersachsen, of an article wishing for a new stronger German/EU foreign policy, more defence spending in Europe and closer Alliance with the new Biden admin.
    It is not something I can support any longer.

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      MacAllister has a Scottish father but has not in fact lived anywhere other than Germany.

    • Squeeth

      I was quite supportive of the EU in the late 80s – early 90s because it opposed the Tories (Officials) better than Liarbour. Didn’t last long before my natural anarchism became irresistible.

  • Piotr+Berman

    A technical comment and a question.

    Comment: Victor Orban is a prime minister in a parliamentary system, and a party leader who tightly controls his party, so he indeed is the decider in Hungary. Andrzej Duda is a president with limited power, and a member of a party that is tightly controlled by Jarosław Kaczyński, so the latter is the decider in Poland.

    Question: which parties overtly supported the motion to strip Catalan MEPs of their immunity? The term “far right” is used very differently by different people. The lopsided result of the vote means that “major, responsible parties” were in the majority. That could be explained by “revelations” that Catalan independence is supported by Russia, and “energetic opposition” to all things Russian (like Russian language or “pro-Russian” TV channels recently closed in Latvia and Ukraine).

  • James

    Craig on some things your just plain wrong,the EU being one of them.It never fails to astound me how some are so blind,when it comes to seeing what the Union really is.

  • Jimmeh

    ˈkaɾləs ˌpudʒðəˈmon i ˌkazəməˈ, according to

    I can’t read IPA, but there’s a ‘listen’ link in that article. It sounds to me like “Putzi-de-maw”, or perhaps .”Putshi-de-maw”.

    I wish there was a website somewhere into which you could paste some IPA, and have it spoken to you.

  • Emeka Uwa

    “I was interested to see which MEP’s had voted to lift the immunity, but on the European Parliament website I could find only a the result of the votes, with no indication how individual members voted.”

    This is often the blazonry of patronage and reckless interference. Hopefully, it will gain full public attention henceforth.

  • Joe Mellon

    The disgraceful EU Parliament also voted to recognize the extreme right winger and CIA asset Juan Guaido as “President of Venezuela” after the US had apponted him to the role.
    The PR service of the parliament sends out neo-liberal tropes, and BS from lobby interests and corporate press releases as obvious ‘truths’.

  • Alan Kinsella

    Founder of the Nazi Golden Dawn MEP Ioannis Lagos retains immunity of the parliament in-spite of being convicted of running a criminal organisation and involvement in the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.

  • J Galt

    I would wish an independent Scotland to be a member of the EFTA for economic reasons, however since voting remain in 2016 I have come to be suspicious of the EU and have done my own research which would make me oppose full EU membership.

    If the powers and institutions of the “Common Market” could have been preserved in aspic in say 1976 it would have remained, even with more members, essentially a free trade association, however that was never the intention right from the start.

  • ET

    The European Commission (EC) is the executive branch of the European Union, responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the EU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. If the EU commission was elected then it would be the de-facto most powerful body in the EU and any country in the EU, one which no state legislature would have power over. It would be fully independent and make national parliaments redundant. No sensible state was ever going to facilitate that happening.
    Equally, if the EU parliament could propose and vote through it’s own legislation the same thing would ensue, national parliaments would be redundant. Again, no state would allow that to happen.
    I agree that this vote is abhorrent. My view is that it is national leaders who instituted it. Horse trading happened. You can blame the pathetic anemic European parliament for not standing up to this but most MEP’s are controlled by the parties in the state from which they were elected and vote as they are told to vote. Ultimately, European governments are behind this.

  • Republicofscotland

    Yes its a shameful decision to lift their immunity, we currently have political prisoners held within the EU, their heinous crime? Holding a democratic plebiscite, in which the participants old and young were brutalised by Spanish forces, of which the EU took no real action against, they were too afraid to upset Spain an EU member. Yet the EU has no qualms about placing sanctions against the likes of Russia.

    I still support the idea of the EU even with all its faults there are also very good points such as free movement etc, but if its going to uphold human rights and democracy for all, within the EU, then it must look closer to home and set by example.

    • Jimmeh

      “such as free movement etc”

      Free movement is an aspect of free trade (free movement of goods and people). It’s purpose is not so that europeans can go on holiday without visas; it’s to enable workers from low-paid countries to be employed in countries where pay is relatively high.

      This brings down the cost of labour in wealthier countries, and results in an exodus of people like doctors from countries like Romania.

      Free movement is not a wonderful thing; it’s a key strut in the EU’s neo-liberal/capitalist framework. It primarily serves the interests of businesses.

      • Squeeth

        Free movement of labour is the corollary of the free movement of capital, a means by which the poor countries can redress the balance somewhat by exporting people when they can’t export capital (or goods) because of adverse terms of trade.

  • Marmite

    That is indeed shameful. I would have thought Spain now had other priorities, but I guess not. The EU does seem to be veering towards fascism. Every day we are beat over the head with news stories telling us that coercive control in family life is a criminal offense, and yet it is precisely this kind of violent behaviour that our great nation-states model for us. If these squabbles say anything, they tell us that the nation-state experiment has had its day. It was little more than a tragic mistake of the past 300-odd years. Throw it in the bin, and come up with another model. Or are human beings not intelligent enough for that?!

    • Squeeth

      Liberalism is fascism when the going is good, fascism vice versa; I’m getting bored with pointing this out.

      • Marmite

        I got bored a long time ago with pointing out the obvious. But then I realised how blind the world is to the obvious, and just said to myself that continuing to point out the obvious will just have to be one of those things in my life, like brushing my hair or going for a wee.

  • nevermind

    This is what the EU accepted in Dec. 2016

    As constant case-law of the ECJ shows, general international law is part of EU law2and, as such, is binding on EU institutions and Member States, especially if it concerns fundamental human rights(De Burca, 2010). Has thus the ECJ, through its 21stDecember 2016 Decision,recognized a right to self-determination within EU law to “all non-self-governing territories and to all peoples who have not yet achieved independence”, including among many others Basques, Bavarians, Catalans, Flemings orScots?

    One wonders what would happen if Bavarian’s want to bring back Ludwigs happy days of past…
    OMG. No more Pretzels for Hamburg, whilst Munich is deprived of Herrings.

    • jrkrideau

      Bavarian’s want to bring back Ludwigs happy days of past…

      An old ex-Bavarian friend of mine in Canada always flew the Canadian and Bavarian flags. His wife once mentioned that she suspected he had never accepted that Bavaria was part of Germany.

      BTW, am I correct that that paper says that Crimea had the legal right to secede from Ukraine and join Russia?

  • Lorna Campbell

    Excellent article, Mr Murray. I was an enthusiastic supporter of the EU, too, but, now, I would prefer an independent Scotland to enter one of the affiliated organizations rather than go for full membership. Its treatment of the Catalan Question has been less than salubrious, along with other dubious actions.

  • N_

    So yes – a referendum in Catalonia please, one that’s accepted as legitimate by both sides. The result will go against separation, and then turnout will be high again in the subsequent election to the regional parliament and the separatists will get voted out. Ideally they will leave office as soon as the referendum result comes in, rather than sticking around for years after they lost the referendum, doing things like stitching each other up on allegations of sex offences and using the judiciary in an effort to cover their tracks.

    • Bayard

      “The result will go against separation,”

      Of course it will. Unless it is a forgone conclusion that the result will be what the ruling parties want, the referendum is not going to be held. “Never ask a question to which you don’t already know the answer”.

  • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

    The following is from an article by Richard Walker today on the ‘Business for Scotland’ site:

    « Tory Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said yesterday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reject any calls for a second independence referendum no matter the size of a pro-independence majority in the May Holyrood election. And he warned that any moves by the Scottish government to hold the referendum without a Westminster agreement would be challenged in court. “There are many reserved matters and the constitution is one of them,’’ Mr Jack said. ‘’ It’s entirely a matter for the UK government.” »

    It is pretty clear that Boris is looking to the Spanish anti-Catalonia example in anticipation of another Scottish Referendum, just as David Cameron looked to Pierre Trudeau’s successful (but only just) strategies during the Québec referendum in his day. Regarding the latter we can note the comments in the 27 min youtube below (first Québec contributer is 4 mins 40 secs in) regarding their own referendum experience. Trudeau and the Canadian government lied, scaremongered, and illegally funded their way to a Federal win (of less than 1%). The anglophone media played its part well. A key factor was relentless doomsaying regarding currency and pensions. There were (unfulfilled) promises of more powers for Québec if it voted no. And here the mystery of the Cameron’s “love-bombing” farce is solved…

    ‘The Make Believers – A Documentary About Media Bias’ (2013)

    • jrkrideau

      I was there in Canada at the time. . Both sides lied. I am not sure who lied more in the 1980 referendum. In the last one, the separatists managed to out-lie the liberal government, an astounding effort.

      • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

        Thanks jrkrideau. I acknowledge with respect your voice of experience. Not least given the fetid morasse of duplicity into which our own Scottish government has now sunk. And indeed sharing with Craig as I do a painful disillusionment with the EU over its astoundingly disgraceful nonchalance with regards to Catalonia. Where is political nobility to be found?

  • DiggerUK

    The end game for the EU project was always the dictatorship of the unelected Commision. To start bleating about the democratic mandate of the Catalans misses the bleeding obvious; that along with all european citizens they have been disenfranchised, voting achieves nothing.

    To believe that the MEP’s have any power and authority because they are put in the parliament by a free vote is fanciful at best. They don’t even have the authority to amend or repeal existing legislation, let alone introduce new legislation.
    The english parliament that eventually chopped off a kings head had more power and authority than these money grubbing freeloaders.

    A well worn anarchist cry is “if voting achieved anything they would abolish voting” This EU dictatorship has gone beyond that, voting in europe simply achieves nothing…_

    • Squeeth

      The legislature could always take sovereignty…. It worked in 1688, except that it wasn’t our legislature.

      • DiggerUK

        In 1688 the Republican Legislature gave away most of its sovereignty to an unelected monarch don’t forget. An event which should properly be called ‘The Glorious Counterrevolution’

        In both the Republic and under the Constitutional Monarchy the citizen had no authority, just the ‘people’.

        The relationship between unelected EU Commissioners and the elected EU Parliament is akin to the House of Lords having power to dictate what the House of Commons can and can’t discuss…_

  • djm

    So the SNP EU Fan Club (on here) suddenly aren’t too keen on that bastion of fairness, legality & due process, the EU ?

    Is it 13 o’clock already ?

    • DiggerUK

      It is only a puzzle as to why such a fan club exists until you realise that the foundations for Mrs. Murrells one party state were laid down by her former “Besty”…_

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