THE European Parliament president has responded to complaints by former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and former minister Toni Comin – who were elected as MEPs in last month’s elections – over the veto imposed on them by Spain.

The pair, from the Lliures per Europa (Free for Europe) list, had criticised “irregularities” by the Spanish state in its consideration of whether or not they could fulfil their mandate.

In a move that effectively puts the ball back in Spain’s court, President Antonio Tajani said the awarding of MEPs’ credentials was a matter for the authorities in each member state.

The National has had access to the correspondence in the case, and in his letter to the MEPs-elect, Tajani said: “Parliament shall take note of the results declared officially by the member states and it is for the national courts on the first hand to rule on the lawfulness of the national electoral provisions and procedures.

“It appears that your names are not on the list of elected members officially communicated to the European Parliament by the Spanish authorities.

“Consequently, and until further notice by the Spanish authorities, I am currently not in a position to treat you as future Members of the European Parliament.”

There was no doubt that both Puigdemont and Comin were elected on the Free for Europe ticket, with 1.02 million votes, along with the imprisoned Oriol Junqueras, one of three elected under the Republics Now banner, who managed 1.25m votes.

Although these results were officially recorded by Spain on the roll of elected MEPs, the trio’s names did not make it on to the list that was sent to the European authorities.

Puigdemont vented his anger on social media: “The Spanish authorities have published the list of elected MEPs in the Official Gazette. Our names were there. Why does Mr Tajani say that we have not been proclaimed?

“Does it mean that the votes of European citizens who vote for the independence of Catalonia are worth less than the others? Europe is facing a real test of resistance for its democracy.”

The omissions came to light following a ruling from Spain’s central electoral board (JEC), which oversees the country’s election procedures.

It said neither Puigdemont, Comin, or Junqueras could become MEPs as they had not fulfilled a requirement under national law to give a personal pledge to comply with the Spanish constitution.

Under Spain’s regulations, candidates who have been elected must take an oath before the JEC to abide by the constitution within five days of their election or their seats will be declared empty “and all prerogatives deriving from their position suspended”, until they comply.

The JEC said candidates must take the oath in person and appeared unwilling to offer any flexibility to Puigdemont and Comin, who are both in exile.

It said: “The fact that a candidate is voluntarily outside the national territory to avoid action by the justice system does not justify treating him any differently from the other candidates.”

Meanwhile, the new session of the European Parliament is due to be constituted in Strasbourg on Tuesday and protests against the veto on Catalan prisoners and exiles taking their seats have been weeks in the planning.

The Council for the Republic and the grassroots Catalan National Assembly have confirmed 64 coaches and two charter flights from Catalonia and said it will demand that “the Spanish state abides by the resolution of the Working Group for Arbitrary Detentions of the UN Human Rights Council and frees the political prisoners”.