Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has returned to Belgium to rally support for Catalonia's independence movement after Spain's bid to extradite him from Germany on rebellion charges failed.

Puigdemont arrived in Brussels on Saturday morning and shook hands with the current regional president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, who had travelled from Spain to meet his predecessor.

Puigdemont fled Spain in October following a declaration of independence by pro-independence politicians in north-eastern Catalonia.

He had been in Germany since March when he was arrested on a Spanish warrant while travelling by car from Finland back to Belgium.

But a Spanish judge withdrew the international warrant for Puigdemont after a German court refused to extradite him for rebellion.

However, Puigdemont can be arrested if he returns to Spain.