SEVERAL weeks ago, I was asked to speak to a Catalonian political representative I had met in the past, the semi-clandestine nature of it all adding to the intrigue. Detailing the intended return of Clara Ponsati to St Andrews University, I was asked how I thought Scottish authorities would react if Spain sought a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

My answer was that it would be for law enforcement, not government, and that they would simply process it, though it would be open to being challenged in the courts thereafter. And so it has come to pass, though far more quickly than I ever imagined.

As the First Minister quickly tweeted out, to try to defuse calls for Scotland to arbitrarily reject it, it’s a matter of due legal process. But it’s now not just Scotland facing this issue with Ms Ponsati, Germany is dealing with a similar request for Mr Puigdemont.

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That’s why it’s ultimately political both for the EU and for Scotland, whatever Nicola Sturgeon or Angela Merkel may say. The EU has a responsibility to act not just pass it to the courts like a political “black spot” and it’s why the SNP faces some challenges, given its political positioning on Brexit.

The First Minister is correct that European Arrest Warrants and extradition aren’t for government ministers but police, prosecutors and ultimately the courts.

The SNP has rightly praised the system and warned of post-Brexit difficulties that could arise. Police Scotland simply receives the documentation and thereafter seeks to implement it.

It is not for it to question the validity or justice of it, simply to process it. That it will have done in conjunction with the Crown Office, given the political sensitivity of the matter.

Ms Ponsati, who looks more like a kindly grandmother than the organiser of sedition and rebellion, is neither a danger to society here in Scotland nor a flight risk.This is why arrangements have been made for her to attend court voluntarily, rather than be arrested. She will be bailed, as again she isn’t going to either flee the country or harm it.

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After that it’ll be up to the courts. There are numerous arguments that can be made under human rights law but what the final outcome will be is to hard to say. It’s Spain that is involved and it’s an EU member and supposedly a progressive democracy, not some banana republic.

That’s where the real issue arises and it’s an invidious one for the courts, as on the face of it Spain meets all the liberal criteria we expect, even if in numerous recent actions it has fallen far from grace. Moreover, it’s no more expected that the Scottish courts should look to much behind Spain’s democratic system than the Scottish police or prosecutors should behind the warrant that arrived electronically in its inbox from a sister Europol service.

What’s at issue here isn’t due process of law but the behaviour of a supposedly democratic nation and the failure of the EU as an institution to address it. The solution has to be political even if the initial question is legal.

The EU has acted before on the abuse of EAWs, though in far less controversial circumstances. Previously, Poland was seeking warrants for everything and anything from the sublime to the ridiculous. I recall one outraged state compelled to process one for theft of a bag of “tatties” complaining bitterly about the expense, never mind the justice. Other EU nations made it clear that seeking extradition for such trivialities was an abuse of process and forced them to halt.

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The challenges of Catalonia are far more serious but they require a political solution by the EU. That organisation cannot stand idly by whilst democratic politicians are jailed and peaceful protestors beaten unconscious, and simply say it’s all about due legal process.

Yet, so far, the comments of the German Chancellor have echoed those of the First Minister about it being for the courts not government. Mrs Merkel has also seemed to indicate an unwillingness to intervene in another member’s sovereign affairs.

That cannot go on for two reasons.

First, the situation in Catalonia is festering and worsening and needs to be addressed for the benefit of all of Europe. Secondly, whilst the EU has turned a blind eye to unwholesome actions by some central European states it was quick to act against Greece and its democratic government. That raises questions about the whole nature of the EU for many people.

Likewise, the SNP has positioned itself post the referendum with the EU as the white knight and Brexit Britain as the pantomime baddie, but it’s not so clear, unless this is resolved.

That’s why even though due process needs to be followed it’s a political solution that must be found.