EU Parliamentary Panel to Discuss Spanish Amnesty Law

Simona Mazzeo
"Credit: Euronews"

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – A European Parliament committee will discuss the contentious Spanish amnesty law targeting Catalan separatists this week. The debate will involve high-ranking officials.

A European Parliamentary committee on civil liberties will this week examine the controversial Spanish amnesty law that aims to pardon separatists in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

On Thursday, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs of the European Parliament will debate the law together with the president of the Venice Commission and the head of the EU Commission for the Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights, and Democracy.

According to the EFE, the panel has put out a schedule for this week, the last of the legislature, in which parliamentary committees assembled before the final session in Strasbourg between April 22 and 25 and the European elections between June 6 and 9. The discussion will feature Marta Cartabia, President of the Venice Commission, and Julien Mousnier, Director of the European Commission for the Rule of Law, Fundamental Rights, and Democracy.

Currently, there is no spokesperson from the Spanish government documented on the agenda.

The European Commission has declared that it will refrain from commenting on whether the scope of the amnesty law violates European legislation until it completes its assessment process in Spain.

What Are the Concerns Raised by the Venice Commission?

The Venice Commission, a component of the Council of Europe not linked with the European Union, published a report in mid-March. The report neither supported nor disavowed the law, although it did emphasise that an amnesty cannot be tailored for specific people.

Additionally, it voiced concern about the recent two-month attachment of the temporal scope of application “without justification.” Meanwhile, the representatives in the European Parliament representing the PP, Ciudadanos, and Vox are attempting to initiate another discussion on the amnesty law during next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg. This would keep the second argument in five months following the one held in November on the Rule of Law in Spain, featuring EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.

How Did Spain’s Congress Respond to Bill?

Last month, Spain’s congress authorised the controversial and divisive Catalan amnesty bill that regional separatists mandated in return for helping the country’s Socialist-led coalition government back into office after last year’s inconclusive general election. The passing of the bill, which was backed by 178 votes to 172 in Spain’s 350-seat parliament, will arrive as a relief for the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, who has risked his political future on the concession.

The proposed law strives to halt legal actions against people charged with separatist activity, primarily connected to the 2017 Catalan bid for secession. It now awaits approval from the Senate.

Who Could Benefit from the Proposed Law?

The draft regulation applies to about 400 people implicated in the symbolic independence referendum of November 2014 and the poll that heeded three years later, which directed to a unilateral declaration of regional independence that pushed Spain into its worst political trouble for four decades. Its most elevated-profile beneficiary would be the ex-Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who escaped to Belgium to avoid detention over his role in masterminding the illegal push to secede.

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Simona Mazzeo is a journalist at Brussels Morning News. She is covering European Parliament, European Council, European Commission & Italy News. She is a law graduate and lawyer residing in Agropoli, has carved out a multifaceted career dedicated to justice and social advocacy. She actively serves as a delegated councilor for the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Bar Association of Vallo della Lucania, championing fair and equal representation within the legal system. Recognized for her expertise and empathy, Simona is qualified for registration in the list of Special Curators of minors in civil and criminal matters at the Court of Vallo della Lucania, ensuring the rights and interests of vulnerable children are protected throughout legal proceedings. Beyond her legal practice, Simona demonstrates a strong commitment to social causes. She is a founding member of the Free Lawyer Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. Additionally, she leverages her knowledge and passion for social justice as a non-professional journalist, contributing insightful and informative pieces on relevant legal and societal issues. Through her diverse endeavors, Simona Mazzeo exemplifies dedication to legal excellence, social responsibility, and a fervent belief in equal access to justice for all.