Blocking of the renewal of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ)

Blocking of the renewal of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ)

According to the Spanish Constitution and legal system, the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), the governing body of the judiciary, should be renewed every five years from the date of its establishment, with the Spanish Parliament deciding on its appointment by a three-fifths majority of its members.

However, since 4 December 2018, almost two years after the end of its previous term of office, the outgoing Council remains in office, while the Parliamentary Group of the Partido Popular in Congress and the Senate is blocking the renewal procedure for purely partisan reasons. In so doing, those parliamentary groups are preventing both Chambers from complying with their constitutional obligation to renew the Council, attacking the independence of the judiciary as a fundamental principle of the rule of law and calling into question its independence and non-subordinated position vis-à-vis other public authorities.

On 14 September 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), Eugenia Rodríguez Palop (GUE/NGL), Idoia Villanueva Ruiz (GUE/NGL) and Ernest Urtasun (Verts/ALE) tabled a written parliamentary question to the European Commission.

The MEPs enquired “does the Commission think that the blocking by the Partido Popular of the renewal of the CGPJ by Parliament, preventing the latter from fulfilling its constitutional mandate and jeopardising the independence of the judiciary, may constitute a breach of the rule of law as a fundamental value of the EU?” MEPs also asked the Commission “does it intend to follow up the matter?”

On 26 November, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission. Commissioner Reynders reported that “the Commission regularly monitors the functioning of national justice systems, including the Spanish justice system” and “in the 2020 Rule of Law Report, the Commission took note of the delay in the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary to which the Honourable Members refer, and underlined the importance of ensuring that the Council is not perceived as being vulnerable to politicisation”.

 “The Commission will continue to follow closely the developments in this respect” concluded Reynders.

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