On 28 October 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Maite Pagazaurtundúa of the Renew Europe Group posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“On 7 May 2020 I tabled a parliamentary question with regard to infringement of the right to good administration in view of the refusal by Spain’s Ministry of Health to reveal the identity of the people making up the technical committee for de-escalation of the state of emergency on account of COVID-19.
On 30 July, the Director-General for Public Health admitted that ‘no committee of experts responsible for assessing the public health status of the autonomous communities exists and that the provinces or territories decide themselves when they can move forward in the process of de-escalating the lockdown’. The government has once again declared a state of emergency but has not provided enough information on the advice it is receiving for its management.
Both the Law on Transparency and the Public Health Law state that the government must provide full information on the advisers who assist it in its decision-making.
1. Does the Commission believe governments should have committees of well-known experts in order to take measures relating to COVID-19, since the latter bring about restrictions to freedoms and rights?
2. How will the Commission demand stricter rules on transparency from governments to prevent these exceptional measures causing a drift towards authoritarianism?”
On 25 January 2021, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “as stated in the reply to Written Question E-002840/2020, the Commission is monitoring the emergency measures taken in all Member States, including in Spain, as regards their impact, in particular on the rule of law, on fundamental rights and on EC law.
Emergency measures must be limited to what is necessary, strictly proportionate, clearly restricted in time, and in line with constitutionally enshrined safeguards, as well as European and international standards. The Commission is monitoring such measures and will continue to do so until they are all lifted.
The right to good administration is enshrined in Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. However, the Charter only applies to Member States when they are implementing EC law, in line with its Article 51(1). The cases referred to by the Honourable Member do not appear to be related to the implementation of EC law.
More generally, as part of its 2020 rule of law report, the Commission has also examined aspects of transparency and access to information under the general assessment of the anti-corruption framework. The Commission will engage with the Spanish authorities on the findings of the report in the country chapter for Spain.”
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