Junqueras’ Immunity: An Example of Judicial Dialogue

There is no doubt that the criminal prosecution of the "Catalan question" is a stress test for Spanish Justice. One of the last episodes, now with a European dimension, has been the "euro-immunity" of Junqueras. And, in this respect, the political and journalistic readings of the judicial decisions issued by the Spanish Supreme Court and by the Court of Justice of the European Union emphasize the confrontation. However, in my modest opinion, I believe that these decisions are an example of dialogue between courts, necessary to manage the current pluralism where legal orders are intertwined without clear hierarchies.

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The Case of Mr. Junqueras is a Case of Respect of the Rule of Law

Mr. Junqueras was not an MEP nor had any immunity whatsoever when he was put on trial for a crime committed in Spain in accordance with Spanish law. When the trial was completely over, in June 2019, but before a sentence was given by the Court, Mr. Junqueras was elected to the European Parliament. And that was possible, precisely, because Spain being a most protective country, his presumption of innocence was still complete at that time.

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Spain has a Problem with its Judiciary

According to the EU Justice Scoreboard of 2019 Spain is among the four EU countries with the worst perception about judicial independence among its citizens. The survey shows a trend that isn’t stopping: the perception about partiality of the judiciary is growing dangerously in the Spanish society. Causes are to be found in three elements: the political situation in the country; the shortcomings in the regulations on judiciary; the behavior of the judges themselves.

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The Junqueras Saga Continues

Notwithstanding the clear message from the ECJ, the Spanish Supreme Court has decided that the Catalan separatist leader and MEP Oriol Junqueras will not be released from prison. The contradiction between the logic of the ECJ’s judgment of December 2019 and the decision of the Spanish Supreme Court of 8 January 2020 forms a new challenge for the EU legal order, in the sense that it puts the relationship between EU law and Spanish national law under strain.

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