On 4 November 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Izaskun Bilbao Barandica of the Renew Europe Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In the Commission’s first rule of law report, the chapter on Spain describes the role of its Constitutional Court, but fails to mention the reform which gave it what the legislator referred to as ‘a body of powers to ensure that its decisions are effectively enforced’. The Court itself dismissed two appeals against the reform, insisting that it did not allow it to supervise ‘the legislator’s intention, political strategy or proposals’. All the same, the fact is that this ‘body’ has proposed that orders, rather than judgments, apply to preventive suspensions of agreements that have not been adopted (monitoring intentions, political strategy or proposals). This has led to criminal charges being brought against elected officials for carrying out strictly parliamentary activities, de facto abolishing parliamentary immunity. It has confirmed the fears of the Venice Commission which, despite validating the reform in the absence of European standards in this field, expressed concerns about penalty payments and suspensions of those who do not comply with the Court’s decision. In addition, the Court never assessed whether orders, rather than final judgments, were insufficient as a trigger for the ‘body of powers’.
1. Does the Commission believe that this shows this to be an issue which should be addressed in the next report?
2. Does the Commission believe that applying the law in the way described above impacts the separation of powers?”
On 3 February 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The 2020 Rule of Law report covers four areas: the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and other institutional checks and balances.
The Rule of Law Report, including its country chapters, does not purport to give an exhaustive description of all relevant elements of the rule of law situation in Member States but to present significant developments.
Based on this first experience and on the evolution of the situation in Member States, other relevant aspects can be included or further developed in future editions.”
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