CARLES Puigdemont has said he will give up his bid to be reinstated as Catalan president if he is successful in the European elections and is allowed to take up the office.

Puigdemont, who is exiled in Belgium, is still an MP in Catalonia but will have to stand down should he become an MEP.

He told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) by video conference that he was not renouncing the presidency, but said Spain had placed “a legal barricade” to stop him being reinstated.

The Spanish electoral authority had failed to stop him standing for the European Parliament and Puigdemont said he aimed to secure a seat and take office, despite facing a rebellion charge in Spain for his part in the October 2017 referendum.

“I hope the Spanish authorities respect the European rule of law,” he said. “In the European rule of law there is no doubt about my immunity and my right to rule as an MEP, not only in my case, but also for ministers [Toni] Comin and [Clara] Ponsati.”

This was a reference to his former government colleagues who are also running for the pro-independence Together for Catalonia (JxCat).

“One of our goals is to defend European democracy against authoritarianism, populism, xenophobia and state nationalism, which is increasing all around Europe. Our commitment is to join other peoples to fight for freedom, and specifically the right to self-determination.”

Meanwhile, a former Spanish supreme court judge has said that should Puigdemont win a European seat, Spanish authorities would have to let him travel to Madrid to collect his formal certificate of election.

Jose Antonio Martin Pallin told Catalan public broadcaster TV3 that while MEPs have to collect these certificates of election from the electoral commission, he believed it should not happen the moment they took office “because it would be frivolous”.

Pallin said: “The logical thing would be for Puigdemont to take possession [of his seat] and for the immunity mechanisms for parliamentarians to be put in place. I believe Puigdemont should be allowed to [appear before the commission] and that any measure against him should be suspended until the European Parliament takes a decision.”

Pallin also argued that former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, ex-ministers Josep Rull and Jordi Turull and grassroots activist Jordi Sanchez, who were all elected to Spain’s congress in last month’s general election, should be released from prison.

He said he believed their continuing incarceration was “worrying and dangerous”, even more so now they are elected members.