EXILED former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and ex-minister Toni Comin yesterday vowed to use the European Parliament to put Catalonia’s independence fight on to Europe’s agenda.

Speaking to journalists outside the assembly in Strasbourg, surrounded by cheering supporters, Puigdemont said: “This is a historic day for us. We are here to remind people that the Catalan crisis is not an internal matter, it is a European one.”

He and Comin are in self-imposed exile in Brussels. European arrest warrants issued by Spain are outstanding against them over Catalonia’s 2017 independence bid.

The pair were elected MEPs in May, along with leader of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) Oriol Junqueras, who is serving a 13-year prison sentence for sedition.

They face arrest in Spain and could not return to take their oaths and collect their credentials as MEPs.

READ MORE: Catalan president banned from public office

However, last month their status changed when the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Junqueras was entitled to immunity from the time he was elected.

Spain’s Supreme Court last week defied the ECJ saying his sentence barred him from immunity as a MEP, and the European Parliament on Friday revoked his mandate.

Puigdemont called for Junqueras to be allowed to carry out the mandate voters had given him.

“Oriol Junqueras should be here with us today, and if the EU was a union of rights and freedoms, he would be here,” he said.

The National: Roger Torrent, speaker of the Catalan Parliament, protests for the release of Oriol JunquerasRoger Torrent, speaker of the Catalan Parliament, protests for the release of Oriol Junqueras

“The same freedoms as we have were not respected because there is a member state, Spain, which does not respect the rules that we have given to each other. Today we can say that the Catalan crisis has had a profound impact on the constitutional foundations of the European Union and it is impossible, as you can see, for the European Union to continue to roll its eyes.”

The Spanish court has called for the European Parliament to strip Puigdemont and Comin of their immunity.

Puigdemont’s ability to have such exposure at the heart of the EU is a blow to Spain’s central government in Madrid. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has just formed a minority administration with left-leaning parties, but it is dependent on support from independence-supporting Catalan parties.

READ MORE: Catalonia: Spain defies top EU top court on Junqueras's imprisonment

Junqueras, in an interview with Catalan broadcaster TV3, said the battle over his status would continue in Europe: “What do we do about the more than one million people who voted for [me as] MEP? I have no doubt that this battle will be won.

“It is an extremely delicate decision for Spain, it faces directly against European justice and it sets a precedent for the political and particular interests of a state to go above the union in a judicial decision.

“But above all, it shows that in the state the judicial system is not responding to justice, but to politics and revenge. It is the clearest evidence that we are political prisoners and that democracy in Spain is in danger.

“However, I have no doubt that sooner or later we will win and I will be an MEP.”