Friday, 24 November 2023, 12:00
The European Commission will closely monitor the Spanish government's amnesty deal with Catalan separatists after heated debate on the controversial matter reached Brussels.
European Partido Popular, Ciudadanos and Vox claimed during a fiery debate at European Parliament that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's deal for an amnesty for those involved in the regional government’s failed independence referendum in 2017 in exchange for votes "violates the rule of law". The Socialists defended the move as a "national matter" during the plenary on Wednesday 22 November.
European commissioner for justice Didier Reynders said the Commission will "carefully" examine the amnesty law to ensure it does not violate the EU treaties. "I can assure you that the European Commission will follow this issue very closely in an independent and objective manner," he said. The new law will first need to be processed in Spain before Brussels provides its opinion, but until then remains a Spanish "internal matter".
Pedro Sánchez won a third term as Spanish prime minister today on 16 November in a majority vote by MPs. The PSOE leader's reappointment relied heavily on deals with smaller independence parties to ensure he picked up 179 votes, three more than the 176 majority required in parliament in a first vote. The deal that sparked the most furor was with Catalan separatist party Junts, which promised Sánchez the support of its seven parliamentary members in exchange for an amnesty for those involved in the regional government’s failed independence referendum in 2017.
During the heated two-hour debate in Brussels Vox leader Santiago Abascal revealed he went to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to denounce the amnesty law, calling Sanchez a "coup leader". European Partido Popular leader Manfred Weber also criticised the Spanish government: "President Pedro Sánchez cannot grant amnesty, it is unconstitutional. We must put an end to separatism."
Meanwhile, the European Socialists accused Partido Popular of "instrumentalising" European Parliament for national issues. Socialist president Iratxe García defended the legitimacy of the new government of Sánchez and assured the amnesty bill is a "commitment to the path of dialogue, understanding and reconciliation".
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