The Spanish government is pushing to investigate the event held last week in Brussels with Catalan officials. It was held in support of President Puigdemont and his four ministers in Belgium, and also to denounce the “political and judicial hunt” against the pro-independence leaders in the past few weeks. Spain’s Finance ministry has required the Court of Auditors’ prosecution to open an investigation of the 200 mayors and three MEPs who took part in the event. The ministry wants to know if the trip and the expenses for organizing the event were paid with public funds.
The finance ministry asked the Court of Auditors’ prosecution to summon the mayors along with Catalan MEPs who also took part, including Ramon Tremosa (ALDE) and Josep Maria Terricabras (Greens-EFA). The ministry considers that spending any public money for the event “might carry an eventual accounting responsibility.” Yet, MEPs Tremosa and Terricabras stated that no EU Parliament money was spent on the event.
Around 200 mayors traveled to Brussels on November 7, in order to support the Catalan officials in Belgium. Several MEPs and the leaders of two associations of municipalities, some other mayors, and the five members of the Catalan executive “in exile” took part. Puigdemont invited Europe to react to the measures Spain has been implementing against Catalan self-rule in the past few weeks. “Mr. Juncker, Mr. Tajani, is this the Europe that you want, with an imprisoned government? he asked, addressing the European Commission and Parliament presidents.
This is not the first time that Catalan mayors have been a target of the Spanish judiciary. In the run-up to the October 1 referendum, a number of mayors were summoned to appear before the prosecutor due to their support for the vote. Although the Spanish Constitutional Court considered the vote illegal, at least 750 Catalan municipalities out of 948 were involved in the organization of the referendum by providing logistics and granting the use of municipal buildings as polling stations.