Will Puigdemont stand trial now?
The European Parliament has lifted the immunity of Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan MEPs. They now face extradition to Spain and charges of sedition and misusing public funds. Until now the Belgian judiciary had refused to allow the extraditions. The press has different takes on what could - and should - happen next.
This problem needs a political solution
The Spanish prime minister must intervene in a conciliatory manner to wrest the political problem of Catalan separatism back from the judiciary, urges El Periódico de Catalunya:
“It is in the hands of the political leaders to develop a new scenario that can lessen the distortion that the actions of the judiciary inevitably cause, even if it is only doing its job. Yesterday showed that it is increasingly urgent to end the parties' mutual blockades and for Pedro Sánchez to take the initiative, whether through pardons or through meaningful legislative changes, in order to face the future solely and exclusively at the political level.”
A missed opportunity
De Standaard points to the political damage caused by the struggle for independence:
“The European Parliament has once again missed an opportunity to send a signal to Madrid. Spain's inability to resolve the nationality issue peacefully cuts Europe to the quick. This is no longer an internal matter. ... The separatists have thrown their region into chaos. ... Their following is stable, but they've never been able to show that they have enough democratic support for secession. Their daring strategy has reawoken the worst elements of Spanish history in the form of the far right, nationalist Vox. Spanish politics is fragmented, and seems to be in an impasse. ... Legally, Puigdemont and the other politicians who have fled the country still have options. ... But the symbolic value of this vote will haunt the European Parliament for a long time to come.”
Embarassing, biased Belgium
El Mundo is furious with the Belgian justice system:
“It's not yet clear whether the Catalan ex-prime minister and two of his state ministers who fled justice with him in 2017 will end up in the dock. For no one can ignore the fact that our country is faced with the proven disloyalty of the Belgian judicial authorities, which have already acted far too often, much to the disgrace and embarrassment of the entire EU, as guarantors of impunity for presumed criminals who undermine our constitutional order.”
EU setting itself up as the enemy
The European Parliament can no longer wash its hands of this dispute, comments Karin Janker, Madrid correspondent of the Süddeutsche Zeitung:
“The Parliament didn't want to get involved in the conflict - and ended up right in the middle of it. ... The Catalan struggle for independence is an internal Spanish conflict which can only be resolved within the country and through dialogue. Nevertheless, it has long since taken on a relevance that extends well beyond Spain's borders. ... Catalonia [offers itself] as a projection screen for many who count themselves among the oppressed. It's the old story of David against Goliath - and the EU Parliament has just catapulted itself into the role of the unloved Goliath.”