Reynders demands “political will” from the PP and the Government to unblock the Judiciary: “It is difficult, but it is possible” | Spain

The deck has not been broken. The European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, has summoned the Government and the PP to a new meeting in Madrid before the end of March to try to unblock the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), which the Popular Party has kept stalled for some time. five years with a conservative majority. Reynders has demanded “political will” from the parties. “It is up to the negotiators to ensure that an agreement can be reached,” Reynders asked. Despite this, the Belgian commissioner has assured that he perceives a “will to move forward.” “We are progressing, we are moving forward,” Reynders added after a meeting in Strasbourg with the Spanish Minister of Justice, Félix Bolaños, and the PP Deputy Secretary of Institutional Action, Esteban González Pons. “It is difficult, but an agreement is possible, the elements are there,” Reynders assured. That the next meeting is in Madrid, in fact, may show that something has moved. The Commissioner of Justice has declared himself “optimistic”.

González Pons doesn’t see it that way. “Unfortunately, positions remain frozen,” the PP leader contradicted Reynders. Pons has demanded “cessions” from the Government to reform the law and has once again linked the amnesty law with the negotiation to unblock the body of judges. After leaving the meeting, he even told journalists that the independence of judges is not guaranteed in Spain.

“The fact that we are talking, negotiating, is good news,” said Minister Bolaños, who has defined himself as “realistic and responsible” with the future of the talks to unblock the CGPJ, a matter that is causing severe damage to Spanish justice. “By the way, the independence of judges is absolutely guaranteed, the Government, the Socialist Party say so, but above all Europe says so,” he concluded, in response to Pons.

For Bolaños, the mere fact that negotiations continue is progress. “It is a complex agreement but absolutely necessary to recover the normality of justice at all levels. In the CGPJ and until the last judge,” Bolaños added.

The representatives of the Government and the PP in this “structured dialogue”, as Reynders defined it when he agreed to mediate, have arrived on the same plane to Strasbourg and have even stayed in the same hotel. But once their third meeting is over – the previous two were in Brussels – and facing the gallery, the atmosphere is very tense between the two at a time of great tension in the Congress of Deputies between PP and PSOE. All on the eve of the vote on the amnesty law.

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The positions remain distant. And “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” say negotiation sources. The PP, which has backed down on several occasions in these five years with the agreement practically closed, demands a thorough reform of the system of electing members of the CGPJ that would give it more power in its composition.

The Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, this Wednesday in Strasbourg.RONALD WITTEK (EFE)

Neither Bolaños nor Pons have entered into the content of the discussions, as Reynders has demanded from the beginning. Brussels’ position is clear and is one of the warnings to Spain in its annual reports on the rule of law: “Proceed as a priority to the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary and initiate, immediately after the renewal, a process with a view to adapting the appointment of its judge-members, taking into account the European standards on the Judicial Councils,” they say. In essence, however, there is no European guideline.

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“We want a reform of the model of the Judiciary that guarantees the independence of judges, and without that we are not going to take a step forward,” stressed the leader of the PP in the European Parliament. “And the Government, on the eve of the amnesty law, is not willing to take that step forward in favor of judicial independence. Therefore, things remain as they were, and I cannot announce any progress,” Pons remarked after the hour and a half appointment. During the first part, only the leader of the PP, the minister and the commissioner were present. Afterwards, they continued accompanied by his advisors. The language of communication between the three has been English.

The popular leader already linked the negotiation of the renewal of the CGPJ with the amnesty weeks ago. Last week, on the eve of his approval in the Justice Commission, Pons threatened to break off the negotiations with the mediation of Brussels, for the measure of grace for those prosecuted by the process. ”It is very difficult for the CGPJ to reach an agreement with someone who is at the same time humiliating, disavowing and forcing the Supreme Court to correct itself, breaking the separation of powers,” he said in Bucharest.

Reynders, who agreed to mediate to unblock the judges’ body, an issue that seriously worries the European Commission, does not have much time. He is leaving the European Commission to begin the campaign to head the Council of Europe, an institution that is not part of the EU and of which Spain is a member. The Belgian liberal, who is sometimes perceived as close to the PP, has not closed the door to continuing as an arbiter for this structured dialogue if the talks are prolonged for a good reason.

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