EU Commission asks Spanish government for 'detailed information' on potential amnesty law

Socialists amid post-election talks agree with Esquerra on pardoning those related to 2017 independence vote, while Junts' support still under debate

Pedro Sánchez, Pere Aragonès, and Ursula von der Leyen in Barcelona on May 6, 2022
Pedro Sánchez, Pere Aragonès, and Ursula von der Leyen in Barcelona on May 6, 2022 / Gerard Escaich Folch
Gerard Escaich Folch

Gerard Escaich Folch | @gescaichfolch | Barcelona

November 8, 2023 08:46 PM

November 8, 2023 09:09 PM

The European Union Commission has asked for "more detailed information, notably as regards the personal, material and temporal scope" of a potential amnesty law to the Spanish government, as made public late Wednesday night. 

Didier Reynders, the EU Commissioner for Justice, addressed a letter to the Spanish acting presidency minister, Félix Bolaños, and to the acting justice minister, Pilar Llop, to ask for more detail on the matter. 

"Serious concerns are now being voiced as regards ongoing discussions on the possible adoption of an amnesty law," the letter Reynders wrote reads.  

"While for the time being there is no formal proposal, this has become a matter of considerable importance in the public debate and the commission has been contacted on this matter, including by a large number of citizens," he added. 

Ciudadanos MEP, and member of the same group as Reynders, Adrián Vázquez, shared the letter on social media and thanked the commissioner for "this important movement, as Europe is already asking for explanations to Sánchez for the amnesty law that he plans to grant to former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and other figures responsible of terrible crimes," the post on X, formerly known as Twitter, reads. 

Sources of the Spanish government told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) that the law has not yet been registered anywhere, and it is the political groups in Congress who submit it for consideration, and not the executive. 

The text written by Reynders, starts by remembering that "the situation of the Council of the Judiciary is a long-standing issue that raises serious concerns and for which the Commission has called for solutions on multiple occasions." 

Reynders refers to the fact that in December 2018, the current members of the governing body reached the end of their terms, but continued since then to hold their posts since the Socialists and the People's Party – essential for the three-fifths majority – had been unable to agree on successors. The CGPJ president is also the head of Spain's Supreme Court. 

This same body approved an institutional declaration against an amnesty for Catalan pro-independence leaders on November 6. 

Reynders criticizes there has "been no progress on its renewal in spite of the urgency, and secondly, no steps have been taken to adapt the appointment procedure of its judges-members taking into account European standards." 

The CGPJ is in charge of appointments, promotions, and transfers of judges, as well as inspecting how courts work and "staunchly safeguarding the independence of the judiciary," protecting it from the other powers.   

Yet, it is the Congress and the Senate, the legislative power, that appoints the members of the CGPJ leadership. Both chambers require three-fifths majorities to appoint a new team when the five-year mandates in CGPJ expire. 

Following July's election, the commissioner added that the government needs to "prioritize the situation and address it without delay." 

Post-electoral talks 

The request comes after the Socialists agreed with Catalan pro-independence Esquerra Republicana on an amnesty for all those involved in the organization of the 2017 independence referendum amid post-election talks to reelect Pedro Sánchez as Spain's PM. 

Meanwhile, pro-independence Junts, whose support for the prime ministerial bid is crucial, has not yet reached an agreement with the Socialists to back their candidate for the top post. 

The amnesty law has not yet been made public, even though it has already generated outrage on the streets, as so far it has not reached Congress, as the Socialists would like to submit it for voting with the signatures of all the parties required to see a Socialist prime ministerial bid go ahead.