Catalan MEP Oriol Junqueras has today (Tuesday) been elected President of the European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament.
He succeeds SNP MEP Alyn Smith who was elected to the UK Parliament at the December UK General Election.
The European Free Alliance forms a joint parliamentary group with the European Greens (Greens/EFA), making it the fourth largest group in the parliament.
Oriol Junqueras also becomes First Vice President of the Greens/EFA Group.
Mr Junqueras has been prevented from travelling to the European Parliament due to his detention by Spanish authorities following Catalonia's independence referendum.
But following the recent European Court of Justice ruling, the European Parliament this week confirmed that Oriol Junqueras has been an MEP since his election in June 2019, and is recognised as such by Parliament's authorities.
Fellow EFA MEP François Alfonsi said:
"We are looking forward to welcoming Oriol Junqueras to Strasbourg next week to take up his seat as an MEP and assume the Presidency of the EFA Group.
"Oriol Junqueras has been an MEP since June 2019 and enjoys immunity as such.
"It is a disgrace that he has been prevented from taking up his democratic mandate for so long, effectively disenfranchising those Catalan citizens who voted for him. The behaviour of certain elements of the Spanish state throughout this process has been shameful.
"The Spanish authorities must now respect the decision of the European Court of Justice and allow Oriol Junqueras to take up his seat without delay."